WDMD Students Use Technology to Help Others
Aaron Krish
wdmd-1-color-courtesy-of-UWSP-Web-and-Media-Development.jpgStudents involved in the Web and Media Development Advanced Development Agency (WDMD ADA) recently developed software for a series of games meant to help with physical therapy for stroke victims.

As an organization, the ADA “is an applied research lab funded completely through external grants and industry partnerships,” most of which are major healthcare providers around the state and country.  Co-directors Dr. Anthony Ellertson and Dr. Trudi Miller guide and serve as resources to the student researchers in the organization.

“We are currently on our 14th or 15th grant, and what we do as the ADA is solve problems that help families, help the community and help children.  And many of our projects are limited to those principles,” Ellertson said.  “We are currently working with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Fused Innovations on our stroke therapy project.”

​In a grant funded project conducted with with Principal Investigators: Dr. Leigh
Ann Mroteck (UW-Oshkosh) and David Kettner (Fused Innovations) a team
of UWSP students and professors assist in testing the state of the art virtual
reality technologies to enhance theapy for stroke patients in the home.

The Home-Based Stroke Therapy System project involves the creation of a series of games and activities that offers stroke victims the opportunity to do intensive physical therapy within the comfort of their own home, on their own time, using a Kinect camera.  Matthew Luckow, one of the designers of the project, helped in the planning, building and testing process of the game.

“The player wears a glove and plays through the game using different hand gestures,” Luckow said.  “It’s all based on what they would need to do in therapy, but it’s meant to be fun and allows them to stay at home to do physical therapy rather than going to a group home or clinic."

Ellertson further explained that the challenge the research students faced was taking the Kinect camera and tricking it to sense movements through the hands and fingers, rather than full-body movements.  The idea of the game is to mimic the activities that therapists would use in a physical therapy session working with stroke victims.

Not only has the ADA developed software for stroke victims, but the organization offers similar programs designed specifically for other health-related problems.  Projects include SpeechTail, a speech therapy program, the In-Patient Registration, a registration program in healthcare buildings meant to make registration easier for patients, and a program meant to help with therapy for Autism patients.

“There was a need for a program to help with the therapy of Autism patients as more insurance companies started to offer money towards therapy,” Ellertson said.  “A company by the name of Research and Motion flew a team to Stevens Point, and they provided ADA with resources and tablets that allowed the group to start developing the project.”

Each project created by the organization has been successful and merited a positive response. Some programs have or may potentially gain national recognition.  While the work the researchers do is important to technology companies around the world, the experience they gain is invaluable to their future.

“From day one, the researchers at ADA are joining a community of practicing professionals,” Ellertson said.  “They take the knowledge and skills they have gained from a class setting and apply those ideas to real world problems and people, and they begin to realize and understand the value of what they are doing for themselves and for others.”

The WDMD ADA will continue to work on projects until the end of this semester when the lab will be closed.  The organization’s projects can be viewed via videos and photos on their Facebook page by searching “WDMD Advanced Development Agency.”