Virtual Reality in A-T

Research Project information

Principal researcher:  Professor Philip Breedon
Institute:  Nottingham Trent University, UK
Cost:  £18,565 over 6 months
Completion date:  December 2023

This project was part of our sandpit funding. Sandpit funding is a small pot of money that we invest in both an unmet research challenge in A-T and in researchers that are new to A-T.  We do this to get a new idea off the ground and to encourage new people to the field of A-T research.

Project Overview and Outcome
To reduce the rate of muscle degradation and potentially prolong the time until patients become full time wheelchair users, professor Breedon and his research team developed a bespoke virtual environment that pairs with a frictionless 360° treadmill, fitted with a rehabilitation support frame. The VR environment contains a wide selection of easy to play, non-strenuous ‘mini games’ each exclusively developed to target a specific muscle group, motor or cognitive function. Throughout game development, the team were in regular contact with parents of A-T patients and A-T specialist clinicians to ensure the game was made to the patient’s requirements and interests.

What next?
The researchers believe the solution has the potential to play a vital role in improving patient wellbeing as it encourages independence through its ease of use, a novel approach to rehabilitation and takes away the need to complete long winded, tiresome activities. To continue their research, the team have are working on submitting a application to further improve game quality, conduct in-depth patient studies and develop supplementary hardware. The teams long term goal is that the solution could be deployed into several local clinics nationwide, providing a community of active users to support one another through multiplayer gameplay and mitigating the need for families to travel long distances for physiotherapy.