Rehabilitation system supports stroke patients

April 30, 2009

People who suffer strokes and Parkinson’s disease patients must undergo extensive physical therapy to relearn use of their limbs. To assist patients with their physical therapy, researchers in the Arts, Media and Engineering (AME) program at Arizona State University have utilized cutting-edge research to develop a computerized" title="Mixed Reality Rehabilitation">Mixed Reality Rehabilitation system.

Following four years of academic research and implementation in a laboratory setting, AME installed a scaled version of the Mixed Reality Rehabilitation system at the Rhodes Rehabilitation Institute at title="Banner Baywood Medical Center's">Banner Baywood Medical Center’s Mesa, Ariz. facility. The title="Banner Baywood-AME partnership ">Banner Baywood-AME partnership allows 30 stroke patients at the Mesa location to take part in a study using the system starting in April 2009. Download Full Image

While using the Mixed Reality Rehabilitation system, patients receive immediate feedback on their movement performance as well as direction for improvement. Patients engage with audiovisual scenes, enabling them to practice physical movements that expedite their recoveries. They are positioned in front of a video screen and a set of sound speakers. Sensory equipment tracks their movements in real time and connects them to interactive images and sounds. For instance, patients learn to move their arms efficiently to make puzzle-like images converge on the screen. The image convergence is accompanied by an interactive music composition that helps patients improve the timing of their movement. The system’s digital and physical aspects are algorithmically adapted to each individual patient’s needs and progress.

The system was not developed to replace physical therapists, but complement and enhance physical therapy at the clinical setting and also to allow continuous rehabilitation training at the home. The future goal is to get the Mixed Reality Rehabilitation system into an adaptable, portable low-cost platform that patients can use in their homes. Some of the Banner Baywood patients involved in the study that started at the Mesa location this April will have the opportunity to take home a prototype home-training system. The home system will give the patients freedom to continue their rehabilitation training on their own on a daily basis, between sessions with trained medical professionals. Trained professionals also will be able to remotely monitor a patient’s work with the home system. This can help reduce the number of trips a patient needs to take to a hospital for physical therapy. Not all patients have ready access or transportation to rehabilitation facilities at hospitals, clinics and medical centers to help them recover quickly.

“Our system encourages patients to be actively involved in their rehabilitation in the clinical setting and the home and helps them in everyday life,” says" title="Thanassis Rikakis">Thanassis Rikakis, AME director. “The collaboration among researchers puts the project at the leading edge of today’s trend of employing virtual-reality technology in medical rehabilitation.”

The Mixed Reality Rehabilitation system was developed by AME researchers across several academic disciplines, including bioengineering, computer science and engineering, electrical engineering, media arts, music and psychology. The system’s brilliance is a result of ASU’s commitment to knowledge fusion, reinforcing the" title="New American University">New American University principles of excellence, access and impact. Students have the opportunity to team up with others outside their areas of expertise and touch the community in ways they may not have thought possible when they began their academic careers.

AME’s Mixed Reality Rehabilitation system is a direct result of the forward-thinking partnerships that commenced within academic halls and labs that now engage the community through hospitals and homes; potentially impacting people in need all over the world.

The Arts, Media and Engineering Program (AME), a collaborative initiative between the Herberger College of the Arts and the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, provides transdisciplinary graduate degrees and conducts research in experiential media. AME incorporates the combined expertise of 14 departments and 49 faculty members from across the university to offer a PhD in Media Arts and Sciences, as well as 15 concentrations in degrees of collaborating units spanning arts, sciences and engineering. AME faculty and students develop and apply rapidly changing technology to enhance education, health and everyday living. For more information about AME, visit">

... />Media Contacts:
Joe Kullman, joe.kullman">">
Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering

Wendy Craft

Marketing and communications manager, Business and Finance Communications Group


ASU energizes West campus with large solar project

April 30, 2009

Arizona State University has begun an ambitious project to install 3.3 MW of renewable energy capacity via solar cells on its West campus.

The project primarily will utilize open space on the West campus and will meet nearly all of its energy needs, said David Brixen, ASU interim vice president of university services. It is part of the second phase of ASU’s overall solarization project on all of its campuses. Download Full Image

“The new solar photovoltaic system at ASU West is a significant investment for our campus,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “It is a smart investment in that it will pay back in annual dividends to ASU and to Arizona by taking the West campus partially off the traditional energy grid and putting it on one that is based on a renewable and sustainable energy source that does not pollute our environment.”

The solar cells will be located between 49th and 51st avenues, south of the Las Casas residence complex. Most of the installation will be in an open area, but Brixen said some of the solar cells will cover existing parking areas, providing shade to cars. Construction is expected to begin this summer with the system operational by December 2009.

“We are currently contemplating up to 7 MW total for the West campus,” Brixen said. “But if we went to that scale, we would need to secure more areas.”

The West campus solar project is part of an overall effort by Arizona State University to transition to renewable energy systems for its power. Already, the Tempe campus has built solar photovoltaic systems that produce approximately 2 MW of power. When phase 2 of this project is completed, ASU will have built solar cell systems that generate more than 10 MW of power on all of its four campuses, Brixen said.

Three companies are providing the solar cell systems and infrastructure for the overall ASU project. They are Independent Energy Group, APS Energy Services and Carbon Free Technology. APS Energy Services is installing the photovoltaic systems on the West campus.

“We believe that when these projects are completed, the 10 MW of solar energy will be the largest university solar photovoltaic system in the U.S.,” Brixen said.

David Brixen, (480) 965-1852

Media contacts:
Skip Derra, (480) 965-4823; skip.derra">">
Steve Des Georges, (602) 543-5220; stephen.desgeorges">">

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications