VHAB is a digital assistive platform developed by TCS to improve the physiotherapy regimen for children with locomotor disabilities due to cerebral palsy or autism
Seven-year-old Anish moves his hands forward as he reaches out to catch a ball that’s coming down towards him.
A while later, he’s kicking around a football, all the while standing in a designated spot in the middle of the room. Anish suffers from mild autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and is undergoing therapy at Zep Rehabilitation Centre just outside Pune.
Unlike most days, he’s happy doing his physical therapy today because he gets to use VHAB, the virtual habilitation platform that Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Barclays have set up at the center.
VHAB is a digital assistive platform developed by TCS to improve the physiotherapy regimen for children with locomotor disabilities due to cerebral palsy or autism. It uses a mix of motion sensors, progressive analytics, gesture analysis, finger mapping and real-time simulation in an immersive VR environment to create a series of gamified and personalized simulated environments.
Anita Nanadikar, VP & head – incubation, research and innovation, TCS said that the platform has already been deployed in four schools in Kerala in the past year, impacting over 500 children.
The biggest advantage this platform has, is that it provides a way to measure the progress the kids are making and allows the therapist to adjust the level accordingly. There are over a 100 kids who come to Zep, from ages two to 14, with various issues, like Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy and learning difficulties. Netra Patkar, principal at
Zep Rehabilitation Centre said, “All of them need some kind of physical therapy, and because they are visual learners, they respond well to gadgets. They are happy to try the VHAB and it also helps with building multiple skills at the same time.”
For instance, a seemingly simple exercise of catching a ball coming towards you and putting it in a basket will build gross and fine motor skills, as well as hand-eye coordination along with abstract thinking and imagination.
Using virtual and augmented reality for therapy is starting to gain traction in the country. In Bengaluru, NewRo Rehab has started experimented with using the ‘Holosuit’, a full body motion controller with haptic feedback, designed by Kaaya Tech for measuring how patients are responding to physical therapy.
“So far, we haven’t had a way to measure brain function. Using the Holosuit, we can measure what the patient is doing and extrapolate it to see whether the therapy is working or not, “ said Dr Sharan Srinivasan, neurosurgeon and Chairman, NewRo Rehab. Srinivasan been using the Holosuit for a few months now, mainly on patients who have had a stroke or a head injury, to understand how therapy is helping them.
The biggest advantage of using virtual reality is that it makes it possible to measure and track progress, something that was done more arbitrarily in the past. When working with kids, there’s the added advantage of them taking faster to this, as it’s a more engaging way to administer the required therapy. For the VHAB platform, the aim is to eventually cover the full scale of the autism spectrum.
“We are looking at technologies like artificial intelligence, brain-computer interface & robotics to enhance VHAB for creating more engaging and immersive experiences for differently abled children,” said Nanadikar.
The company is keen on working with partners, like with Barclays in Pune, to deploy the platform in India and globally. Sean Dunphy, Senior MD, Barclays, said, “This is the start of an exciting journey towards making a difference in the lives of India’s specially-abled population, with the aim to replicate globally.”