Invited Speakers

Using Ambulatory Virtual Reality to Study and Assess Functional Mobility

William Warren, Brown University, Rhode Island
The challenge of rehabilitation is to provide limited interventions that will generalize to the behavioral complexity of the real world. In the case of locomotion, gait assessment and training aim to restore functional mobility, with adaptive dynamics that can cope with the daily onslaught of obstacles, openings, barriers, gaps, steps, drops, and sharp turns, under varying speed and surface conditions. The advent of ambulatory VR offers new opportunities for the assessment and rehabilitation of functional mobility. In this talk, I will describe some of our research on the dynamics of locomotor behavior, and our recent attempt to take advantage of the flexibility of VR to derive tasks for the evaluation and training of functional mobility. Our aim is to devise a battery of tasks that capture the natural range of adaptive variation and dynamic complexity of locomotor behavior, in the hope that rehabilitation will translate more effectively to real-world contexts.


Finding Galactica: Will It Unlock The Secrets to More Effective Rehabilitation?

Alma Merians, UMDNJ, New Jersey
From Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, to Morton Helig’s Sensorama in 1960, a personal experience theater that used a binocular viewing device, a vibrating seat, stereophonic speakers as well as event specific odors, to John Lucas’s Star Wars in 1977 and The Matrix Reloaded, people have always been intellectually and visually fascinated with alternate and virtual realities and the human sensory capacity to bridge real and virtual environments. The underlying tenet of utilizing virtual environment applications for medicine is to provide a window into the brain – a window into modifying and normalizing brain function, either affective and cognitive or sensory and motor. In this welcome address, I will present a brief overview of how this medium is being used to remodel motor behavior and what we see as our future challenges. 


Approaches to Human Motion Animation

Norman Badler, University of Pennsylvania, PA
While the classic approach to human motion understanding is to decompose the body into tractable motor units, the complexities of natural human behavior motivate a more ecological and holistic view. Our research into human movement generation has followed both paths, with the latter more difficult but ultimately more rewarding in terms of situating human simulations in an environmental context. This presentation will briefly review some of our work on procedural motion generation, looking primarily at strength-guided motion, collision avoidance for arms and whole bodies, motion “quality” parameters based on Laban Movement Analysis, eye movement and facial animation, and contextual motion of groups of virtual people. Many of these studies have used our Parameterized Action Representation to maintain connections between virtual human motion and the environmental context. Current efforts include “smart events” driving a functional populace, multimodal motion capture, and human-robot communication and interaction.


The Roles of Telepresence in Rehabilitation

Matthew Lombard, Temple University, PA
The talk will begin with an example-rich introduction to the concept and applications of telepresence in a variety of contexts, followed by a frank assessment of the accomplishments and challenges in telepresence research. We’ll then turn to a more detailed consideration of the possible roles of telepresence in a variety of physical and psychosocial rehabilitation contexts including speech and language. Finally, a series of proposals will be made for how the research, technology and clinical communities might best take advantage of the potential of telepresence to help improve and expand rehabilitation.