WIM is a new type of interactive stroke therapy that empowers and supports patient's recovery at home.
15 million people worldwide suffer from stroke.
Stroke is a sudden death of brain cells that leaves half of your body paralysed. This state is called hemiplegia. Immediate, continuous, and correct rehabilitation is crucial to fully recover. Within 24 hours after the attack your therapist wants you to get up and be active in order to reconnect brain cells. Focusing on brain activity rather than solely on muscles is crucial to fully recover since stroke first and foremost affects the memory, speech, haptic senses, and vision.
The challenges start at home.
Getting back on your feet after a stroke is tough but the major challenges arrive when you return back home. It is then up to you to keep challenging yourself to continue to improve. At this point many patients feel a lack of motivation to exercise without the therapist support and lack of reminders they received at the rehabilitation center.
Therapy made personal.
WIM is designed to be a helpful companion and is there to remind, support and challenge you with different excursuses throughout the day. Through light, sound and vibrations WIM comes alive and offers a unique form of home therapy. Accompanied by an armband measuring muscle activity in the arm and hand, WIM is able to adjust every training session, providing a personalised therapy based on your current abilities.
A playful therapy addressing all senses.
WIM wants the user to tap and find the lights as they appear on its surface, creating a interactive gamified therapy. Your are guided by lights, sounds and vibration stimulating all effected senses. The way of interacting with WIM makes you twist, turn and focus without having to think about it.
A family of products.
WIM is set up and prescribed to you by your therapist. As you improve WIM will adapt the therapy difficulty level through interaction and shape. Fort starters, WIM is the shape of a sphere, the simplest and most universal shape meant to train general motor skills. At a later stage it will be replaced by a cylindrical shape similar to a pen, challenging more fine motor skills. In the end of your therapy WIM will appear in the shape of a small cube making sure your regain the last bit of important motor skills. The armband stays the same and is accompanying the shapes throughout the therapy.
Your collected training data can be shared through an application used by both the therapistand the patient. As a patient youcanfollow your progressand get personalised tips directly from yourtherapist in the mobile application. The therapist on the other hand benefits from a centralisedoverview of your progress. It includes receiving a weekly tracking record of the patient's muscle activity and a detailed progress analysis. This enables adaptions and adjustments to your personal rehabilitation plan and the opportunity to continue discussion throughout the time at home. Something many patients express they were lacking.
Benefits of WIM
Providing personalised therapy.
Thanks to data collected by the armband, WIM is able to offer a new type of personalised therapy constantly adapting excursuses to the level of the patient. Compared to the current situation at home where stroke patients lack continuous follow-ups with a therapist, WIM will be able to provide a more efficient rehabilitation supporting and challenging you all the way.
In the comfort of your home.
WIM gives freedom of mobility to patients and enables them to reach their goals and fully recover in the comfort of their own home. Today's market does not provide any tools to practice motor skills efficiently outside the rehab environment. The patients are forced to train with wooden puzzles pieces at a uninspiring and stigmatising table at the rehabilitation centres.
Therapy made fun.
By adding personality to WIM, the user will connect on a personal level, almost as you would with a pet. WIM is "living" in your home, making sounds to grab your attention and you can never really be sure what to expect during training sessions. This makes the therapy fun and interesting throughout the lengthy time of home recovery.
It was important for us to design a non-stigmatising product since the patients are feeling extremely vulnerable in this condition as it is. The use of carefully chosen materials and colours allows WIM to be a discreet piece visually blending into your home environment. The fabric made armband is soft, comfortable and easy to wear underneath clothing. In combination with WIM's personality, it is a therapy device to be proud of.
A new type of therapy
WIM reminds you when it is a suitable time to resume the training at several moments throughout the day. It takes for example certain times of the day into consideration well as how you behaved last time to keep you as motivated as possible. It lights up and generates sounds and vibrations to get your attention. When you pick it up, WIM welcomes you with a happy indication sound expressing excitement of your return.
Training with WIM.
When picking up WIM, it turns into game mode: It will start one pulsating light and up to four static lights. Once you have found the pulsating light, place your thumb on top. This is to guide the user into the correct starting position. Next, place the remaining fingers along the static lights and press. If you placed all fingers correct WIM will indicate your success with sound and vibration. If your fingers are misplaced WIM will give you a short error sound and vibration. Just enough for you to try again. Beginners can choose to have the strap attached to avoid dropping it during sessions.
At each stage of the game-therapy WIM wants you to search for lights. For many stroke patients this is difficult. Their visual field might be impaired as well as haptic senses. Furthermore, the search process challenge movements from shoulder to wrist whereas stretching for and tapping the light strengthens the fine motor skills in the hand and fingers. To adapt to the patient's level WIM measures the task time. position accuracy, applied pressure and movement speed. WIM can steer how many fingers you need to place, how much force you need to apply and how much time you have to complete the task. This makes the therapy continuously challenging in order for the patient to push him/herself.
The armband is made of soft materials that stretch and comfortably nestle on the skin. Unlike a traditional wearable the armband is able to measure, record and analyse muscle activity in the arm throughout the day. Through tiny electrodes on the inner side, the armband can detect electrical muscle activity and evaluate it in a press called electromyography (EMG). Together with the readout of the integrated motion sensors (accelerometer), a gyroscope and magnetometer - WIM can analyse and interpret hand and finger motion. This enables the patient to get personalised feedback in the end of the day. By double tapping on the top part of the band, five LED lights will light up indicating ho often the arm was actively used.
The training buddy, WIM.
WIM is equipped with motion sensors that share their data with the armband. One of the core features we focused on, is WIM's pet-like personality. It is enabled through an integrated light emitting diode system, a sound system and vibration motors providing a force feedback system. A small computer unit as well as an integrated battery empower WIM's flexibility and mobility.
Connected synergy effects.
The passive and the interactive products are constantly connected. They share and analyse the flow of incoming data. If used together it enables the user to train playfully, improve, record, analyse and receive progress feedback. All these aspects will help to motivate the patient to stay focused and regain the uppe limb abilities in a short amount of time.
Our design process
WIM emerged in a course at Umeå Institute of Design in collaboration with the Swedish corporation ABB, focusing on the future of collaborative robotics. During our initial research phase we learned that computer enabled rehab robots can easily help to carry out repetitive tasks. We saw this as an inspiration with potential for the rehabilitation context.
Eye opening research visits and analysis.
To get insights into the daily activities of patients and therapists we visited the Neuro RehabilitationCenter in Sävarand the hospital Stroke Center in Umeå. During these visits we got valuable information about the procedures of care andtherapy which triggered us evenmore to raise awareness about thismedical field.
Wefound out that the market offers robotic arms designed for the stroke rehabilitation field. However, those are manly focusing on muscle function when they should be focusing on brain stimulation. To add to this, we realised that most of the rehabilitation training in Sweden is done in a rehabilitation environment the first week after the strokeoccurred. So our focus shifted to enable stroke therapy in the home environment and to narrow down the scope we decided to design for upper limb impairments.
We held a workshop with designers and continued with 2D ideation to identify three concept directions. We saw most potential in a concept using technology to track hand motions to be analysed and then able to adjust the therapy continuously. At this point we decided to design an interactive system for home training that consisted of a passive hand tracking device and an active training module. The ideas were translated into 3D prototypes and digital sound files tested with people in a "Wizard of Oz" test.
With the outcome of the test, initial sketches and prototypes we went back to the therapists to evaluate and get feedback. The outcome was very much appreciated so we focused further on the user interaction and training itself to refine the user experience and complete the system.
Prototyping a virtual buddy.
We spend the next phase of the project to adress the sensory experience and characteristic behaviour of WIM, the active training module. We designed vibration rhythms through Arduino programming, created a suitable sound library for a responsive, life like feeling, and built several Arduino powered prototypes with various light patterns for different interactions.
Building the prototypes we learned to how to refine the training aspect of WIM. Through CAD and rapid prototyping techniques, wire soldering and Arduino programming we eventually created a functional prototype.
The final step was to refine the brand experience, service and with that the interactive app environment that would accompany the physical products. All of this came together in a movie we explored through storyboards.
Final feedback from the professionals.
With the final project outcome, we went back to our experts that supported us with feedback throughout the project. We presented in front of ABB and several therapists and left with positive feedback and questions when the product would make it to market.