Virtual Reality Research and Rehabilitation in the Canadian Forces: Part 2


Written by Emily Sinitski, Canadian Forces Health Services CAREN Coordinator

Recap from last week’s post: The Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) is located in The Ottawa, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta Centres of Excellence. The CAREN is a virtual reality environment that allows clinicians and researchers to systematically manipulate the walking surface and/or visual field to address patients’ treatment needs for physical, cognitive and mental health rehabilitation. Get all the information from last weeks post here.

New CAREN Applications

  1. Smooth Pursuit: The Smooth Pursuit application displays a single moving tracking object with or without multiple moving distracter objects. This application can simulate standing or walking in a busy environment and can be used for sensory desensitization. The clinician can customize the field of view, number of distracter objects, shape and colour, and if the tracking object path is continuously or intermittent.CAREN 2.pngFigure 1. The Smooth Pursuit application displays a single moving tracking object (sphere) and 5 moving distracters (cube).
  2. Train: The Train application allows a person to walk or stand in a virtual moving train that can be used to provide conflicting visual-vestibular information as well as the addition of cognitive and balance tasks. The clinician can customize visual flow or train speed, direction of visual flow (e.g., forward or backward), and environmental distracters inside and outside the train.CAREN 3.pngFigure 2. This figure demonstrates the virtual train scenario with multiple objects inside the train (passenger, brief case, and bicycle) and objects outside the train (trees, telephone poles, highway, and vehicles). Objects outside the train can be displayed one or both sides.

What information can you obtain from the CAREN?

The CAREN system consists of measurement devices, including a motion capture system and a multi-axis tilting platform embedded with a treadmill and two force plates. The motion capture system is used to capture how a person moves by recording 3D positions of reflective markers that are attached to the body with double sided tape. Marker positions are used to create a unique subject model and allow us to obtain movement in three dimensions. The treadmill force plates are used to record ground reaction forces, which can be translated into joint torques and powers at the ankle, knee, and hip. The data capture using this system can also be used to quantify centre-of-mass movement, centre-of-pressure progression, or temporal-spatial information such as step length and step time. This information can be used to quantify deviations in walking patterns, which can be used to guide rehabilitation.

So what CAREN research is currently happening at Canadian Forces Health Services Physical Rehabilitation Program? See next weeks Part 3!


About HBrownDNDOT

Helen Brown MOT., OT Reg., (Ont.) Rehabilitation Occupational Therapy Coordinator | Coordonnatrice des services d'ergothérapie en réadaptation physique des Forces canadiennes CF H SVCS GP HQ | QG GP SVC S FC National Defence | Défense Nationale
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