“VR movement”: How VR will help in recovery from complex injuries


VR application for the rehabilitation of people with locomotor injuries was developed in Tomsk. It has already been recognized as the best project at the regional stage of the scientific breakthrough technologies forum Falling Walls Lab. In November, the app will be presented in Berlin. Today, we are talking with the “VR Movement” team about how the project was started and plans for the future. Let’s first introduce the team to the readers. Tell us a few words about each participant.

German Shnaider:
Nikolay Muraviov, the main ideologist of the project. A creative man who thinks of and brings to life incredible things from popular movies, for instance, helmets from Star Wars or costumes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Also known as @StarMaster  
Maxim Zhdanov, Financial Director.  A man of business who loves and knows how to make money, who grows in spiritual consciousness, and concentrates on his purpose to the world. 
German Shnaider, Project Science Director. I’m a man of science, I enjoy working with my hands, I design and make my furniture, mainly out of wood. Tell me who came up with the idea of the project “VR movement” and when? Who is part of the project team today and what functions do they perform? 
Nikolay Muraviov: Nine years ago, I suffered serious spinal injury during a ski trip due to careless management of the ski resort and lack of proper safety measures. In 2017, I decided to help people with similar experiences and founded the “VR Movement” project. The first step was winning first place during the Federal Hackathon “Cyber Russia” in 2017. Now I am engaged in the development and promotion of the project. 

The second person to join the project was my friend Maxim Zhdanov. He has a great deal of experience in entrepreneurship so he immediately started creating a business model for the project, and look for investors and ways to distribute the product. 

In 2017, at the StartupLab startup accelerator, I met the project’s future science director. German Shnaider looks for and interviews team members, develops new modules and sets up product testing and presentations. How has the project changed since it was launched?
Nikolay Muraviov: The idea of the project was to make a VR simulator program and a special suit. The suit was to capture the potential movement of a person’s locomotor activity and stimulate their paralyzed limbs simultaneous with movements in the VR headset. First, we developed software for a desktop computer that worked with HTC VIVE VR headset. The second stage was a prototype for the Oculus GO mobile VR headset. Now, a mobile app that can be installed on any smartphone is in the process of development. 

Today there is an opportunity for more efficient functioning of the application by connecting external additional devices, such as a wireless electromyograph module which captures the forces of nerve impulses in the muscles of the limbs. Initially, the project was intended for people with spinal injuries. But today we are testing how we can help people with health conditions following a stroke, cerebral palsy, and phantom limb pains. If we talk about rehabilitation with the help of VR technologies, how does it work from a technical and physiological point of view? How successful is this method in general? Have you received any feedback from medical organizations? 
German Shnaider: A scientific article with the results of the initial research is being prepared. Currently, we are testing the method in Tomsk. We believe that standard rehabilitation methods in conjunction with VR technologies will improve the speed of recovery from stroke and other serious injuries. Due to brain plasticity, we can stimulate the formation of new neural maps and increase the development of a new locomotor stereotype.  Medical organizations are interested in our product and we are currently figuring out ways to collaborate. From what we know, you have presented your project in a number of competitions, and quite successfully. Tell us about the most significant achievements. 
Maxim Zhdanov: Yes, we have a number of awards:
  • winner of Cyber Russia 2017;
  • best Young Scientist at Science Week 2018;
  • best tech solution in the topical area at the Young Scientists’ Development Competition 2019;
  • finalist of regional tour of The Falling Walls Lab;
  • finalist of the Social Idea by the MTS network provider;
  • semi-finalist of Open Query by Moscow Agency of Innovations. You are starting trials of your application using a VR headset in August. How are you going to carry out these trials? 

German Shnaider: The groups will be divided by the nature and location of injury (upper or lower limbs). The study will take place on the grounds of project partners. Measurements will be recorded: 
  • on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS);
  • on Berg Balance Scale and on Ashworth Scale of muscle spasticity for better clarity of the effect in locomotor activity;
  • with the help of a wireless electromyograph module we will track how the intensity of the nerve impulse in the muscles of the limbs changes. Correct me if I’m wrong: today, there are a lot of different events for startups, where hundreds, if not thousands, of young people generate a huge number of ideas. How do you stand apart from your competitors? 
Nikolay Muraviov: We see our goal as bringing modern technologies to the consumer, to make rehabilitation affordable and effective. That’s what we want, that’s what we do, and people see our work and support us. Hence the conclusion: believe in your business, strive for good deeds, go your own way, and you will certainly be noticed. 

NBPrice.RU: What are your plans for the VR Movement project long term?
Maxim Zhdanov: Available technology: from a mobile application (with high personalization of the specifics of human health conditions) to an integrated product (with position tracking of the human body, an electro-myo-stimulation suit, and built-in electromyography sensors). And finally, let us dream a little. How can VR technologies change, let’s say in a hundred years from now? 

German Shnaider: In a hundred years’ time, the forth industrial revolution will already be over. The point of technological singularity will pass, and virtual reality will cease to be something separate from people. It will be something familiar, something without which no person will be able to think of themselves in the world of the future. 

NBPrice.RU: Thank you for the conversation. May your project win at Falling Walls Lab and do a lot of good for people! 
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