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Xbox for Stroke Rehabilitation 147

An anonymous reader writes "Using an Xbox modified to run Linux, researchers have developed virtual reality hand exercises for rehabilitating stroke patients. An inexpensive glove controller is used to interact with the Xbox. The hardware cost is a tenth of a comparable commercial hand rehabilitation system, leading to the possibility of deployment in patients' homes."
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Xbox for Stroke Rehabilitation

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  • Interesting... (Score:5, Informative)

    by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @02:38AM (#16057710) Homepage Journal
    A quick Google search [] shows that there is definitely interest in such a system. By utilizing a redily available asset, they are making it cheap and easy for both patient and developer.

    In case you are wondering what exactly the big deal is about stroke rehab, here is a snippit of a government factsheet []:

    In the United States more than 700,000 people suffer a stroke* each year, and approximately two-thirds of these individuals survive and require rehabilitation. The goals of rehabilitation are to help survivors become as independent as possible and to attain the best possible quality of life. Even though rehabilitation does not "cure" stroke in that it does not reverse brain damage, rehabilitation can substantially help people achieve the best possible long-term outcome. What is post-stroke rehabilitation? Rehabilitation helps stroke survivors relearn skills that are lost when part of the brain is damaged. For example, these skills can include coordinating leg movements in order to walk or carrying out the steps involved in any complex activity. Rehabilitation also teaches survivors new ways of performing tasks to circumvent or compensate for any residual disabilities. Patients may need to learn how to bathe and dress using only one hand, or how to communicate effectively when their ability to use language has been compromised. There is a strong consensus among rehabilitation experts that the most important element in any rehabilitation program is carefully directed, well-focused, repetitive practice - the same kind of practice used by all people when they learn a new skill, such as playing the piano or pitching a baseball.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gordonjcp ( 186804 )
      A friend of mine who had a stroke has found that they have recovered a certain amount of mobility in their "bad" side by playing Eyetoy games on the PS2. I don't know how much and how quickly, but it's probably worth studying more closely.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Scoth ( 879800 )
        My dad had a stroke two years ago. It was relatively minor as strokes went, but he still had a lot of coordination problems. His left side was far worse than his right. His recovery process was slow until they let him go home and he got back into trying to racing simulations he loved to play (Grand Prix Legends mostly. Awesome game but a heck of a learning curve). All of a sudden he did hugely better and pretty quickly was driving himself for real again. I mentioned it to the physical therapists but they di
        • All these stories from people and based on the article summary, I can take a guess at what is happening: physical rehab (like what you get in the hospital), but done more often because you are doing something you love. While the use of games as rehab, in itself, is pretty interesting, I don't believe that the game is what is helping them recover. It's the constant movement and retraining of the mind, just like conventional physical therapy. Using games is brilliant because it will get people to actually
      • My wife had a stroke 6 mo. after we were married. She was 22 at the time, so people should not assume that strokes only happen to old folks. One of the effects was that she had trouble manipulating the fingers on her left hand. I set her up with an old game console that her brother had. Having to manipulate a joy stick seemed to help her recovery quite a bit.
        • by rikkards ( 98006 )
          I can concur with your comment. My wife had a stroke at the age of 30, highly active, eats well and should never have happened. Neurologist and her doctor figure it was due to an upper neck manipulation several days earlier by a chiropractor (We thought about suing but don't feel like being in court for the next two years). Needless to say she hasn't gone back and is pretty much against chiropractors working above shoulders. She got off pretty luckily in that she still gets some vertigo once in a while but
  • Great job... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 07, 2006 @02:38AM (#16057712)
    ... too bad it's a violation of the DMCA.

    *shakes head and walks away in shame*
    • Simple Solution (Score:3, Interesting)

      Microsoft lawyer says you're breaking the DMCA and this is how we're going to handle it
      1. A small team of software developers will sit down with you and write some rehab software for the XBox 360.
      2. Microsoft will donate the software and equivalent number of 360's to hospitals and clinics.
      3. We have a big press conference and you tell how Microsoft is helping stroke victims.


      We take you to court and do the same thing without you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by donaldm ( 919619 )
      Unfortunately you are right. Microsoft has no chance of making any profit by selling games for this modification it is purely a loss for them and to add insult the software is running under Linux.

      If Microsoft takes the developers to court, they could win legally but could end up with a public relations nightmare, so they will most likely ignore it since they do have very deep pockets.

      The only thing I can see come of this is Microsoft phases out the Xbox more quickly and this of course is going to get devel
      • I doubt they'll do anything about it. Look at the popular machinima Red vs Blue []. They used Bungie's Halo game without permission from Bungie, who is owned by Microsoft. Bungie even let them start selling DVD's for their Red vs Blue series. I bet Microsoft will take the high road and let it be.
  • We're partying like its 1989!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by AuMatar ( 183847 )
      I love this idea. Its so bad.
    • I hated the Power Glove so much! First of all, I'm left handed, which meant I could barely control my gestures. On top of that, I was six years old, so my fingers would only go about halfway into the glove.
      But I was so determined to use the awesome Power Glove that I would tape pencils to my fingers and run it in the mode where you had to use the directional pad on the top, and your thumb and index finder were the A and B buttons.
  • Obligatory (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    But does it run Li.. oh wait, nevermind.
  • Why an Xbox? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by atomicstrawberry ( 955148 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @02:40AM (#16057717)
    I don't see what the big deal in using an Xbox for this is. Wouldn't it be easier to just use an old PC with Linux on it?
    • Re:Why an Xbox? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Al Dimond ( 792444 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @02:50AM (#16057740) Journal
      I'm guessing they like that all Xboxen have the same exact hardware, whereas all old PCs don't. This way they can just create one Linux image and slap it on all the Xboxen without worrying about differences in hardware compatibility and performance wasting all their time.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I believe the 1.6 versions (the newest ones) of xbox have a video chip that currently is incompitable with linux.
      • by Rydia ( 556444 )
        They could do the exact same thing by ordering a commodity system from any number of retailers. It would probably cost less, too.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by RuBLed ( 995686 )
      Some speculationis to your question.


      1. It is readily available and quite cheap
      2. They are all the same specs, so what you develop for 1 xbox would have "almost" the same performance as with all xbox
      3. It could be readily plugged into the television set and be unplugged as easily.
      4. More glove sales :) (hmmm.. I could already think of some uses for those gloves that this)
    • by rtyall ( 960518 )
      I can see the benefit of using an Xbox rather than an old PC. This way, Microsoft can attempt to patent it with a very tenuous link to their production of the Xbox, since it's just a more advanced method of their first hand exercise "CTRL ALT DEL".

      (Yes I do realise that MS didn't create it, but then they never invented Conjugated Verbs either....)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rosscoe ( 1000032 )
      One good reason is ease of use. Most stroke patients are elderly, in a lot of cases very elderly. Using a simple device like an xbox with a simple on/off switch will be far easier for them (and any carers) to use than a PC. Stroke patients often have problems remembering as well so the easier you can make it the better. And it's easier from a support point of view, but it would be easier still if it could be released as a proper xbox DVD so that no mods are required. I'm excited about this as my wife had a
    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
      At the time this research project started (I happen to know one of the researchers, she was involved with RUSLUG when I was a grad student at Rutgers), the Xbox 360 was not yet available.

      Unlike an old PC which can only be obtained by scrounging, Xboxes were readily available off the shelf. This system was designed to be as cheap as possible.

      Unfortunately, like its predecessor in the "economy VR glove" market (the Mattel Power Glove), the VR glove used is no longer available to my knowledge. :(
    • by tsa ( 15680 )
      Why not a freakin' Commodore 64? It can do the job just fine.
  • Wouldn't modding an Xbox to run Linux require a mod-chip, and thus run afoul of the beloved DMCA?
    • Re:Wouldn't... (Score:5, Informative)

      by toejam316 ( 1000986 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @02:58AM (#16057762)
      Indeed, but, fortunately, it doesn't require a modchip. all it requires is for you to softmod the Xbox, and possibly replace the Harddrive in it (to make it easyer for Linux). Softmodding, for the uninformed, is a exploit in a few games save game systems (Mech assault being one of them), which allows unsigned code to be run. using a hacked save, it runs a linux program and adds Evolution X (a Dashboard replacement) and a few other bits and pieces to the Xbox. Nifty eh?
      • FUD!

        You don't need to replace the hard drive... it's got 10Gb stock, and i assume that is more than enough to run the rehab software.

        Ohw, and softmodding an xbox to make it run linux doesn't require a dashboard replacement at all!

    • IIRC, there is a way of doing it without using a modchip. It's on the XBOXLinux wikisite.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dormann ( 793586 )

      It is possible to install Linux on an xbox without a mod chip or even opening the box. It involves loading a "baited" savegame that triggers Intel's infamous buffer overrun and does some reworking of the device's startup files.

      However, as best I can recall, the DMCA doesn't care whether you're using a physical chip. It's just the act of circumventing a protection scheme that's illegal. So yes, the DMCA has still been violated.

      They could have avoided breaking the law by working on this humanitarian proj

      • well, then he/she shouldn't go to Europe (or at least any EU country) because it's also illegal here in europe to circumvent a protection scheme....
      • by Mr2001 ( 90979 )
        It is possible to install Linux on an xbox without a mod chip or even opening the box. It involves loading a "baited" savegame that triggers Intel's infamous buffer overrun and does some reworking of the device's startup files.

        How do you get this save game onto your Xbox without opening it up to access the hard drive? Buy a memory card that someone has already preloaded with the save file?
        • by spidrw ( 868429 )
          You can either buy something called the 'Action Replay' which allows you to load gamesaves onto a memory card from a USB port on your PC (think current-gen Game Genie), or you can get a cheap-o memory slot USB adapter and use any old flash drive to load the save. It's a beautiful thing.
  • Here I am using a mouse like a sucker...
  • Using an XBox to overcome masturbation problems when Viagra isn't enough.
  • This is a yet another reminder of the importance of preventive measures!
  • Inhibiting research (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cryptoluddite ( 658517 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @03:27AM (#16057816)
    This is exactly why DRM lockdown is such a bad thing for 'promoting the sciences and useful arts'. For xbox 360 these people would have to buy a sdk and pay licensing fees out the wazoo. It would never happen.

    The irony of "free markets" is that the less regulation the worse they perform. Monopolies are crackable DRM.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe you would like to comment on the fact that the effect of very much regulation is to _create_ monopolies?

      Such as;

      - extremely high food quality regulation = monopoly for the only company that have the technology/systems to satisfy them and prove it
      - awarding a contract for building a road having as a requirement that the company has a comprehensive social awareness policy and dedicated immigrant integration trained HR officers = monopoly/oligopoly for the few/single larger companies with the resources t
    • by blowdart ( 31458 )
      Actually, with the release of XNA Express [] the SDK and compiler are free for the XBox 360. There's talk of a fee to enable distribution, but it was low, $99 per year.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The irony of "free markets" is that the less regulation the worse they perform.

      Interesting. As one who has worked in the heavily regulated medical device industry, one of my favorite sayings that I utter frequently (especially when a really good idea gets squashed for "regulatory reasons") is "The more you regulate a business, the worse its products become."

      I have a huge number of examples that demonstrate the truth of this statement (don't get me started). Now, that said, I agree that a completely un
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by vrtladept ( 674792 )
      Funny that your DRM example actually proves the opposite. If we didn't have DMCA regulation, copyright, patent, and other "IP" laws then your scenario wouldn't matter, we would just crack the DRM and move on, thus removing the artificial monopoly built by technology.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Reading this excerpt from the article:
    "In one exercise, a patient attempts to wipe clean four vertical bars of "dirty" pixels that obscure a pleasant image on a computer display."

    You've gotta wonder what'd happen if you loaded pr0n images in there. I'd be doing my exercises all... night... long...
  • First, this is not to praise the xbox, but this is clear example where commonly available technology trumps expensive proprietary solutions. As more and more technologies get built into mainstream hardware, we'll see less "special" devices that cost arm and leg, which perform the same function.

    Let's also not forget that XBOX is a loss leader though, it shows an inherent weakness in this model: you never know of your clients will go the whole path so you can return your money (will they buy games, will they
  • Uh-Oh! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NightDragon ( 732139 )
    Hey, they could get in big trouble for that! its illegal to run linux on X-box! Those unscroupulus pigs!

    Oh, wait... Except that there are big technological advances to be made out there, but researchers all across the USA are scared to death that they are gonna violate a IP law (such as the DCMA) and be whisked to jail, be sued, or worse.

    I love the fact that these guys didnt let a little thing like a federal law stop them from inventing a solution that can help millions of people worldwide. They deserve a
  • between strokes and epilectic seizures? If so, this is a very bad idea... regardless, there's nothing special about this... an xbox is just a computer, after all...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      People who have had a stroke have a greater tendancy to have a seizure. It's something like 5% within the first 24 hours (they wouldn't be getting therapy at this point anyway) and 2-3% within the first year. There are plenty of medications that prevent seizures, though, and many stroke patients take a form of these. You also have doctor supervision (remotely in some instances).

      Additionally, the patient wouldn't be looking at their screen for long periods of time. Therapy sessions are generally limited
      • I just thought of something else. There's many people that need acute motor rehabilitation in their hands that aren't stroke victims: people that have been in car accidents, have had major surgury, people who are just getting older. The list goes on. Stroke victims are the most obvious candidates since they require a LOT of rehabilitation and there's many of them, but there's plenty of other people that could use this as well. In those instances, seizures wouldn't be an issue at all.
  • Wait, what?

    Who can honestly say that they did not immediately think of VR pr0n and ... well ... ahem ... you know...

  • Using the XBox and Hot Coffee mod I was able to work on my stroke months ago.
  • "Using an Xbox modified to run Linux, researchers have developed virtual reality hand exercises..."

    Um, yeah. I guess you have to get the Xbox to run Linux first before you can use it to show your porn, um, I mean "virtual reality environment" in order to do your, um, "hand exercises"...

    • Get your mind out of the gutter..
      I mean, RTFA, it just shows dirty pixels. But you wipe them to see pleasant pictures. And fist butterflyes.
      Um, that didn't sound right. Anyway, there's no innuendo here. This is a pure and innocent article about helping people with their strokes!
  • Game therapy (Score:4, Informative)

    by bm_luethke ( 253362 ) <> on Thursday September 07, 2006 @04:40AM (#16057955)
    Sometime in the mid 80's I was diagnosed with several "learning disabilities". The only one I still carry to this day is Dyslexia (see my sig). Another one was reaction and hand eye co-ordination.

    For the latter the doctor told my parents to get me to play video games. They, at first, purchased me an (expensive at the time - nearly 3000 dollars) 8086. Unfortunatly for me (and thier money - it wasn't until my senior year in high school - '93 - that I became interested in computers) I never really got interested in it and picked up an Atari which I wore out. I've played video games constantly since then - it worked in my case. I'm sure they wished they had just bought the atari to begin with, but where happy I had something that I wanted to use that was also therapy for my problems.

    I sometimes wonder if the same treatment would be prescribed today given the current attitude towards games.

    The saddest part is that they had to hack the system to do this. I don't really know why they didn't use a PC and one of the free dev kits around - some are quite good (and many of the pay ones are free for research). Maybe they couldn't really find a replacement for the glove, but then it would seem easier to hack it into a joystick port than what they did. Ahh well, at least the research was done.
    • by cilynx ( 182750 )
      Actually, the P5 isn't "an Xbox controller". The P5 was designed as a USB PC VR interface. It's been around for close to 10 years and is a pretty well known sales flop. I have one sitting on my bookshelf. I used it once before coming to the conclusion that while it is pretty cool, my custom made FSR glove does a better job for the needs of my rehab lab.
    • by mmdog ( 34909 )
      Last year after Christmas my son's teacher started complaining about his 'distractablity.' Fear of even appearing to violate the law kept her from coming right out and saying it, but it was clear that she believed he either had or was developing ADHD. I took him to a psychologist who specializes in education for a diagnosis.

      As is turned out, and even the teacher later conceded, his 'distratability' problem only arose when he was given writing assignments. His behavior otherwise was in her own words "exem
  • Though it's clear that this project is illegal as long as they use XBox due to DMCA, why not use a cheap PC instead? Maybe 1 Xbox may be cheaper than 1 PC, but you can use the processing power of 1 PC for doing multiple services at the same time. Also hacking Xbox is just a needless addition to personal costs.
  • But wait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by webheaded ( 997188 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @05:36AM (#16058076) Homepage
    Isn't the soft mod exploit legal to install Linux with? What happens you ask? 1. Download gamesave for Mech Assault or another game that has been exploited 2. Open the save in the game of choice 3. Launch Linux Installer While thats obviously a simple run down of what you do, is that actually in violation of anything? You aren't modifying the hardware to run insigned code and crap, you are simply making the game overflow, crash, and then run a BIOS loader which loads a Linux installer. Am I missing something here?
    • Actually it is. You're purposely doing what wasn't meant to be done on the XBox. If you accidently happen to do that, it would be a different thing. But accidently downloading a manipulated savegame, applying it accidently to your box and then accidently slipping in a BIOS loader and a linux installer that just so happened to be there, that's about as easy to explain (and as credible) as the maid that tripped and landed with her head in your crotch.
      • "Actually it is. You're purposely doing what wasn't meant to be done on the XBox."

        you know, if everyone just used things only the way they were "meant" to be used, then I suppose that a lot of things we use today would never be around... just take the PC for example, more than just your average typewriter, it now can do so much more than just what it was meant to do by the big whigs who packaged it and patented it, and Linux can be thanked in large part to that.
        • Very true. Inventive, creative use of old implementations to solve new problems has been a key to the technological progress we have today. But this is highly discouraged by the industry today. If you solved a problem yourself, you wouldn't have to buy their solution. Worse, you'd solve it in a way that maximizes the benefit for you instead of revenue for them.

          Thus, you're not supposed to solve anything. You are supposed to wait until some solution comes up and then buy it!

          Look around you and realize that,
      • But it didn't happen accidentally. . . It was just. . . Someone Who Isn't Me. . . yeah, that's it! SWIM did it.
    • The act of circumventing the copy protection on the XBox (to get around the Dashboard) is illegal by the DMCA. The DMCA doesn't care if you use software or hardware mechanisms to circumvent (even poor) copy protection. Consider that the DMCA even applies to copy protection on CDs that is activated with Autorun. By holding shift or disabling Autorun you're effectively circumventing that copy protection and therefore violating the DMCA in the strictest sense.

      There are a few exceptions as pertain to Fair Us
      • They might still have a hard time with that argument. Is installing something different for a completely different purpose really circumventing copy protection? It's not being used to get access to the content the copy protection is there to protect.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Aladrin ( 926209 )
      That like asking 'Isn't it legal to break the law when there's nobody and nothing around to get hurt?' No, it's still not legal. There is no 'I didn't do it to break the law' clause in the DMCA. Circumventing the protection, for any reason, by any method, is against the law now in the US.

      The real shame here is that MS doesn't EVER license their devkits to anyone unless they are a serious game developer and can front a huge amount of cash. For that matter, Sony and Nintendo don't, either.

      I'm sure they ar
      • The real shame here is that MS doesn't EVER license their devkits to anyone unless they are a serious game developer and can front a huge amount of cash.

        Did you get the memo about XNA? Mmmmm. Yeah. You see, it's just that Microsoft is giving away the XNA studio which allows you to develop for Xbox360, for free. I'll go ahead and get you another copy of that memo. Mmmmkay?

        • by Aladrin ( 926209 )
          Yeah, you go ahead and do that. Ohhh, that's right, you can't because it doesn't do x360 yet. It will 'in the future'. Yeah, sure. Call me when it happens.
          • He'll be calling you before the PS3 hits store shelves...

            Oh, but it's not free: it is $99/hr (free for Windows)
            • by Aladrin ( 926209 )
              I hadn't realized it wasn't free forever, myself. But $99/hr! I think you mean $99/yr ;)
              • Yea, clearly what I ment :-)


                Visual C# Express is free
                XNA's Game Studio Express is free

                Q: How much will XNA Game Studio Express/XNA Framework cost?
                A: The XNA Game Studio Express tools and runtime environment for Windows is completely free. To develop, debug and/or play games on the Xbox 360 you will be required to purchase a XNA "Creator's Club" subscription on the Xbox 360 through Xbox Live Marketplace. The subscription is available in 2 options, $99 a year or $49 f
                • by Aladrin ( 926209 )
                  People are going to hate me for this, but I'm seriously considering it. I've wanted to create games for a long time, and I've even helped code/design simple ones that never went any where... But if this makes it even easier, and will work on the x360 also (which I just purchased last week) then I think I could have some fun with it. And of course, there's no investment until I actually want to publish on the 360.

                  I'm assuming that selling the content I create is not an option on the free XNA IDE, tho. No
  • So you're telling me that there is no way for them to mass produce a similar pc box with this purpose in mind at a similar cost, and that they had to use semi-legal means for deployment? There has to be at least one hardware manufacturer willing to do a better volume discount for either nonprofit or specially targeted purposes instead of resorting to modified xboxen.
    • The XBOX is a great platform for this because of its simplicity. You plug in a power cable and an AV cord and that's it, you have the display on your television screen. The XBOX is small(ish) compared to most PCs and easily hooks into any input your TV requires. Plus, it's built on standard hardware.
  • ...and looks like it's been taken over by an Xbox distributor. Hopefully the concept will be adapted to other devices.
  • they would have to pry it[xbox] from my cold dead hands.

    Wait I am not dead yet?

  • An Xbox running linux?

    Someone call the cops! That's illegal!
  • ...when they're done with their hand exercises, they can play some halo too.
  • I think they probably had a stroke in the first place from playing Ghost Recon on their Xbox. Ouch!
  • Virtual rehabilitation ... engages patients who may otherwise lack interest or motivation to complete normal exercise regimens.

    In one exercise, a patient attempts to wipe clean four vertical bars of "dirty" pixels that obscure a pleasant image on a computer display. The bars are erased in proportion to each finger's flexing motion, giving the patient immediate feedback on his or her performance.

    Or are they removing clean pixels from a dirty image? Finger motions, eh? [wink wink]

    Perhaps it is just a

  • by puppetluva ( 46903 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @10:50AM (#16059247)
    This is the most perverse thing I've ever read. A computer built by Microsoft that uses a linux-powered glove to stroke its victims.

    I'd read more about it but I don't really read articles. . . .
  • ...with getting a free xbox!
  • I'm waiting for my SinoLogic 16 with Sogo7 data gloves and Thompson eye phones.
  • I write software for a company, Interactive Motion Technologies [], that makes robots used for stroke rehab and other rehab and neuroscience research. Our products are based on research done at MIT [].

    I am not familiar with the Rutgers glove in the referenced article, but I think it only senses patient motion, it doesn't move the patient's hand around. Our robots guide patients to move their limbs (shoulder/elbow, wrist, hand, ankle...) while they play various simple video games, letting them move if they ca

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