A team of Air Force Academy cadets recently won a $500 prize for a physical therapy device from a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs business plan competition. The five-person cadet team, who worked through the local non-profit group FalconWorks, will compete for an even larger prize in May at a Fort Collins competition and then, if successful, will move to the next level of the Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge for a $250,000 prize. This challenge is Colorado’s richest business plan contest, according to a news report from The Gazette.

FalconWorks spent 2 years developing NeuMimic, which is a device for upper-body limb rehabilitation that utilizes a Microsoft Kinect gaming system to provide an interactive physical therapy program. According to The Gazette news report, the device is being tested at Penrose Hospital and another local physical therapy clinic and is initially targeted at patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries, strokes, or upper-body limb surgery or injury. The device uses a specially designed software and multidirectional arm brace linked to the Kinect system to show patients’ movements.

Patients are connected to the device with motion sensors, and as therapists lead them through exercises, NeuMimic allows them to follow along with their own previously recorded movements by superimposing one image on top, as noted in The Gazette news report. In doing so, the patient can learn to align their movements so they can do the exercises correctly at home. The system sends a report to the therapist on the patient’s exercises.

Cadet Will Burnette says, “Physical therapy at home is both complicated and boring. NeuMimic gives a game-like experience for the patient, real-time feedback to the therapist, and helps to improve recovery time because it keeps the patient doing their at-home exercise and doing it accurately.” FalconWorks chairman Dan Neeland says the non-profit hopes to eventually license the technology to a manufacturer so the device can be produced and sold to therapy clinics.

[Source: The Gazette]