MindMaze CEO and founder Dr Tej Tadi discusses the use of gamification and virtual reality technology to improve post-stroke recovery and rehabilitation.
Advances in technology are improving all aspects of stroke care, from helping people who are at risk to detect and manage their risk factors, to improving post-stroke recovery and quality of life. More and more gamification and virtual reality (VR) technologies are transforming rehabilitation – among them wearables designed to bring about neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to repair itself) through repeated and tailored exercises in VR-type settings, and headsets employing gamification to counteract stroke-induced hemispatial neglect.
Working in this space is MindMaze, a Swiss start-up whose products combine virtual reality, brain imaging and gaming technologies to accelerate brain recovery in stroke victims. Speaking to Pan European Networks, CEO Dr Tej Tadi, who founded the company in 2011, outlined the advantages of gamification over traditional rehabilitation therapies, the challenges involved in developing such technologies, and what the future might hold for VR and gamification in healthcare.
How can virtual reality and gamification technologies be used to facilitate rehabilitation after a stroke or brain injury?
Our neural-virtual reality system is a very targeted way to exercise the parts of the brain that need attention after being damaged – and the platform allows for rehab to start as soon as possible after injury, which improves outcomes.
What advantages does such technology offer over conventional therapies?
Because our treatment takes the form of virtual reality-based games, patients are much more likely to enjoy therapy and see it as a pleasant activity rather than a chore. The combination of an early start and higher frequency of use combines to speed recovery in a very effective way.
How can it assist healthcare providers in addition to the patients?
MindMotion PRO is as impactful to healthcare providers as it is to patients. Therapists and healthcare providers can use the technology to treat more patients more effectively, which both reduces costs and produces more positive patient outcomes.
Where did the main challenges lie in creating such a technology as MindMotion PRO?
There was nothing easy about developing the technology behind MindMotion PRO as it represents a decade of clinical trials and the work of over 20 PhD-level scientists. However, the most fundamental challenge was gathering the volume of data needed to drive our neural predictive database that allows for the pre-real-time decoding of brain signals.
What potential is there for technologies like MindMotion PRO to be used beyond rehabilitation? For instance, could gamification and VR be used to train and enhance healthy brains?
There’s tremendous potential for the technology that underlies MindMotion PRO in healthcare and beyond. We’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of how human biosignals can control computers along the lines of a mindOS. My personal ambition is to continue to push our technology toward that idea of a mindOS and improve the lives of people across more and more industries.
How do you see VR and gamification technologies developing as a healthcare standard into the future?
We see VR and gamification expanding as a standard form of treatment in a number of different areas in healthcare. Something we’re very excited about is portable versions of our MindMotion PRO technology to provide a more complete continuum of care, from inpatient to outpatient environments.
Dr Tej Tadi
This article will appear in issue two of Pan European Networks: Health, which will be published at the end of August.