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Neurology and Neurosurgery

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Healing Games

JHUEngineering/Aug, 2017 - Students come to Homewood’s Brody Learning Commons for lots of reasons, from studying to socializing with friends. Soon they will be able to add helping patients recover from stroke and brain injury to that list, thanks to the installation of a special gaming table in BLC’s lower level.

Called the Kata Therapeutic Table, this device—once fully operational this fall—will allow students, faculty members, and staff members to play video games remotely with neurology patients at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The games they will play have been specially designed to give neurologically impaired players a dynamic, immersive experience that helps stimulate brain recovery. More...

Helping Hand

Robots, video games, and a radical new approach to treating stroke patients.

The New Yorker/Nov 23, 2015 - In late October, when the Apple TV was relaunched, Bandit’s Shark Showdown was among the first apps designed for the platform. The game stars a young dolphin with anime-huge eyes, who battles hammerhead sharks with bolts of ruby light. There is a thrilling realism to the undulance of the sea: each movement a player makes in its midnight-blue canyons unleashes a web of fluming consequences. Bandit’s tail is whiplash-fast, and the sharks’ shadows glide smoothly over rocks. Every shark, fish, and dolphin is rigged with an invisible skeleton, their cartoonish looks belied by the programming that drives them—coding deeply informed by the neurobiology of action. The game’s design seems suspiciously sophisticated when compared with that of apps like Candy Crush Soda Saga and Dude Perfect 2.

Bandit’s Shark Showdown’s creators, Omar Ahmad, Kat McNally, and Promit Roy, work for the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and made the game in conjunction with a neuroscientist and neurologist, John Krakauer, who is trying to radically change the way we approach stroke rehabilitation. Ahmad told me that their group has two ambitions: to create a successful commercial game and to build “artistic technologies to help heal John’s patients.” A sister version of the game is currently being played by stroke patients with impaired arms. Using a robotic sling, patients learn to sync the movements of their arms to the leaping, diving dolphin; that motoric empathy, Krakauer hopes, will keep patients engaged in the immersive world of the game for hours, contracting their real muscles to move the virtual dolphin. More...

Dolphin video game - a bold new approach to helping stroke victims relearn motor skills

a dolphin drawing

'Bandit's Shark Showdown,' created at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, challenges users to control dolphin's movements with robotic arm

The Hub/Nov 17, 2015 The Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine's Brain, Learning, Animation, Movement lab has released an interactive video game, "Bandit's Shark Showdown," that could help rehabilitate stroke victims. An article published in the Nov. 23 issue of The New Yorker explores the inspiration and development process behind an app that combines cutting-edge robotics, neuroscience, and game design. More...

Could a Video Game Be the Key to Stroke Recovery?

National Geographic/Sep 29, 2014 - John Krakauer, director of the BLAM Lab at Johns Hopkins University, and his team of researchers, artists, and programmers, is developing a new way of thinking about post-stroke therapies. By combining the human hand-eye coordination of video games and the playfulness of dolphins, Krakauer is hoping to change the way we think about—and treat—stroke patients. More...