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商业 - 科技

虚拟现实技术帮助截肢士兵康复

John Gaudiosi 2016年02月24日

虚拟现实技术还将应用于其他医学领域,包括解决其他神经病学问题,如创伤后应激障碍(PTSD)、帕金森氏病、大脑性麻痹和自闭症等。

对于经受过截肢的士兵来说,严重的幻肢痛会使他们变得十分虚弱。

虚拟现实公司MindMaze设计出一款医学虚拟现实、增强现实和动作捕捉视频游戏,可以令截肢患者沉浸在一个虚拟环境当中,当患者移动现有手臂时,人形化身的另一条缺失的手臂也会跟着移动。神经科学家、MindMaze创始人兼CEO特吉•塔迪(TejTadi)表示,这种“镜像”会“欺骗”大脑,让大脑认为截断的肢体依旧存在,事实证明其在缓解幻肢痛方面十分有效。

该项技术首先在瑞士洛桑大学医院(Lausanne University Hospital)的截肢患者身上进行测试,之后,MindMaze将与加州大学旧金山分校医学中心(UCSF Medical Center)的神经康复临床系主任、神经病学家加利•艾布拉姆(Gary Abram)博士合作,在加州大学旧金山分校进行一项研究,将该项技术应用于美国退伍军人事务部(U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)的患者身上。此项研究将于第二季度开始,研究人员将在约六个月后收集相关数据,从而为将此疗法应用在其他士兵身上打开大门。

最近,MindMaze公司的这项研究帮助其成功从辛杜佳集团(Hinduja Group)获得1亿美元投资。目前,该公司交易前估值超过10亿美元。

过去三年,这家瑞士初创公司一直在探索如何实现虚拟现实技术的创新应用,以帮助患者从令人衰弱的病痛中恢复,如截肢、脑外伤和中风等。塔迪表示,最近获得的投资将用于开发虚拟现实技术在其他医学领域的应用,包括解决其他神经病学问题,如创伤后应激障碍(PTSD)、帕金森氏病、大脑性麻痹和自闭症等。

塔迪表示,这些医学问题均可以受益于虚拟现实视频游戏,因为游戏可以通过镜像技术,刺激大脑形成新的神经联系。

塔迪表示:“以中风患者为例,游戏针对特定的动作,患者可以看到他们的动作映射到人形化身的人物身上。如果一个人在中风之后无法移动右臂,练习要求其用功能正常的左臂伸手去拿一个虚拟物品,但在屏幕上,他们看到的是人形化身在移动右臂。”

据美国疾病预防和控制中心(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)统计,每年有近800,000万美国人需要应对中风引起的长期残疾。而据世界心脏联合会(World Heart Federation)统计,全球约有1,500万名中风患者。

MindMaze并不直接出售其硬件产品。医院和康复中心可以通过预约的方式,租赁软硬件套装,每月最低2500美元。

塔迪称MindMaze已经在亚洲和欧盟地区建立了经销和营销合作伙伴关系,并计划在2016年针对中风和脑损伤患者推出医院和家用设备。另外,该设备今年在斯坦福大学(Stanford University)和加州大学旧金山分校完成测试后,于2017年开始在美国发售。

此外,2016年末,MindMaze还将在虚拟现实技术最新奇的分支领域,发布虚拟现实游戏系统MindLeap。该系统是基于MindMaze的专利神经技术引擎建立的,该引擎已通过医学验证,适用于中风、截肢和脑损伤患者。

塔迪说道:“MindLeap是业内首款意念驱动的虚拟现实、增强现实和动作捕捉游戏系统。通过将神经传感技术与内置动作捕捉摄像机相结合,MindLeap能够释放玩家的意念力量,增强游戏可玩性。”

塔迪称MindLeap为玩家提供了一种全新的方式,便于参与和体验他们所喜爱的游戏——他们不仅能在游戏的虚拟世界中看到人物/人形化身,还能通过意念触发事件。(财富中文网)

译者:刘进龙/汪皓

For a soldier who has endured an amputation, severe phantom limb pain can be debilitating.

Virtual reality company MindMaze has designed a medical virtual reality, augmented reality, and motion capture video game system that immerses the amputee in a virtual environment, where moving the existing arm will move the non-existing arm of the avatar. Neuroscientist and MindMaze founder and CEO TejTadi says this “mirroring” tricks the brain into believing the severed limb is actually there, and has proven benefits in phantom pain management.

After testing this technology in Switzerland with amputees at Lausanne University Hospital, MindMaze is going to start working with patients from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs through a study at the University of California, San Francisco with Dr. Gary Abram, a neurologist and the director of the Neurorehabilitation Clinic at UCSF Medical Center. In about six months, researchers will have data from this second-quarter VA-associated study, which could open the door for this treatment to be used by additional soldiers.

The research helped MindMaze recently raise $100 million in funding from Hinduja Group and receive a pre-money valuation of more than $1 billion.

The Swiss-based startup has spent the last three years exploring new ways virtual reality can help patients recover from debilitating injuries such as amputations, brain trauma, and strokes. Tadi says the recent funding will be used to explore additional medical uses for virtual reality, including other neurological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, and autism.

Tadi says all of these medical issues can benefit from the virtual reality video game, which can stimulate new neural connections in the brain through the mirroring technique.

“In the case of a stroke victim, the game targets a specific movement, and patients see their actions mapped onto an avatar,” Tadi says. “For someone who is unable to move their right arm after a stroke, an exercise requires them to reach for a virtual object with their functioning left arm, but on-screen they see the avatar’s right arm move.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 800,000 Americans cope with the long-term disabilities of strokes each year. Globally, the World Heart Federation estimates 15 million people suffer from strokes.

MindMaze isn’t selling its hardware directly. Hospitals and rehabilitation centers can rent the hardware and software package on a subscription basis, which starts at $2,500 per month.

Tadi says MindMaze has formed distribution and marketing partnerships in Asia and the European Union with the plan to launch hospital and home devices for stroke and brain injury patients in 2016. Sales for the U.S. will begin in 2017 after testing this year at Stanford University and UCSF.

In what may be the strangest offshoot in technology, MindMaze is also releasing a virtual reality gaming system called MindLeap in late 2016. The system is based on MindMaze’s proprietary, medically proven neurotechnology engine for stroke, amputee, and brain injury patients.

“MindLeap is the industry’s first thought-powered virtual reality, augmented reality, and motion capture game system,” Tadi says. “Combining neural sensing with embedded motion capture cameras, MindLeap unleashes the power of players’ minds to enhance game play.”

Tabi says MindLeap introduces a whole new way for gamers to engage in and experience the games they already love—not only seeing their bodies/avatars in their games’ virtual worlds, but triggering events with their thoughts.

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