Computer-based therapy taps into artistic pathways during neurorehabilitation

WorthenChaudhariRTFImageColorful and unique "paintings" are created on a computer screen as patients move their arms and legs while using Embedded Arts, an interactive computer program that provides neurorehabilitation biofeedback to help them recover from central nervous system injuries.

"Patients need to move their bodies to help them heal," says Lise Worthen-Chaudhari, MFA, MS. "Embedded Arts, a computer-based creative game, helps patients stay interested and focused during exercises designed to help them recover from traumatic brain injury, stroke and spinal cord injury."

People with such injuries – and certain medical conditions – often have central nervous system impairments that negatively affect movement, as well as decision-making, reasoning and clear thinking. Neurorehabilitation – or exercise that helps the brain and nervous system heal – is crucial.

"Movement is medicine. Neurorehabilitation aims to improve through movement for individuals with brain or spine injury," says Worthen-Chaudhari, associate director of the Motion Analysis and Recovery Laboratory at Ohio State.

The Embedded Arts software application uses video-game technology but is not just play or dance; instead, game-paradigm technology helps patients tap into artistic and creative neural pathways in the brain during standard rehabilitation exercises.

Using biophysical motion sensors attached to the patient's body, Embedded Arts transforms movement into art as part of the healing process. Movement is detected in three dimensions and plotted in two dimensions on the computer screen as an abstract painting.

Embedded Arts is part of a recent study by Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation researchers of the Neurological Institute within The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Worthen-Chaudhari, who is a research assistant professor, is the principal investigator for the study. The findings of her research are published in the journal NeuroRehabiliation, and she is working with a Columbus-based innovative health company to enhance and refine Embedded Arts.