Stroke treatment hi-tech


Murdoch University lecturer Fairuz Shiratuddin. Picture: Jon Hewson         d448381
Murdoch University lecturer Fairuz Shiratuddin. Picture: Jon Hewson d448381

Fairuz Shiratuddin has spent 18 months working on Neuromender, a computer-based virtual reality program that concentrates on upper body recovery, a component of stroke rehabilitation he feels does not currently receive enough attention.

Developed in conjunction with the West Australian Neuroscience Research Institute, and the help of three groups of final year students, Neuromender captures detailed upper body data in real-time as stroke survivors move their recovering arm to fly a “wing-man” through a virtual world.

Dr Shiratuddin’s mother suffered a stroke more than 30 years ago. Although now able to walk, she still struggles with movement in her upper body.

“Having seen the difficulties my mother is facing every day and the type of rehab she is doing, I thought why not create something you can do in your own home and in your own time,” Dr Shiratuddin said.

“Currently most rehabilitation takes place at set times and places and is nowhere near as entertaining or engaging as Neuromender is for the patient.”

Up to 75 per cent of stroke survivors experience motor deficits associated with reduced quality of life, either as a direct result of the stroke itself or through the longer-term effects of disuse, inactivity and lifestyle changes.

Neuromender will run on most computers and the only other technology required is a 3D depth sensor produced by Microsoft for its Xbox One console.

A pilot trial of the first iteration of the software featuring 20 stroke survivors is due to begin by the end of the month.

“We’re currently just waiting for human ethics approval to begin the trial, which should come through soon,” Dr Shiratuddin said.

“The goal is for the Neuromender to become a complete solution for upper and lower body rehabilitation. We’d love to hear from any company or party that might be willing to help with funding.”