Replacing a phantom limb with a Kinect

Nearly everyone has heard of phantom limb syndrome. It occurs sometimes after a limb is amputated, but the mind of the patient still thinks that the limb is attached. Generally regarded as a mix-up in the wiring of the damaged nerves, a phantom limb can be very painful. [Ben] has been working on a way to alleviate some of the pain and frustration associated with a phantom limb and fortunately for us he went for a Kinect, VR goggles, and gyroscope build.

Today, most therapies for phantom limb syndrome use a Ramachandran Mirror Box. The theory behind the mirror box is pretty simple – if someone recently lost a hand, just insert one hand in one side of the box and the arm stump on the other side. Looking into the box from the side with the good hand will trick the patient’s brain into thinking the amputated hand is still there. It’s a good therapy that has been very successful, but [Ben] thought he could do something that is a little more immersive.

[Ben]‘s project uses a Kinect and VR goggles to put the patient in a virtual environment. With the help of a few gyroscopes, the patient gets a virtual representation of their whole self projected into their goggles. The technique isn’t terribly different from VR phobia treatment, although there’s much more electronics and math involved in [Ben]‘s build. The first test subject said his pain was going down, so it looks like he might have a success on his hand (no pun intended).

Check out the demos of [Ben]‘s treatment plan after the break.

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