AIT researcher aiming to help cure walking abnormalities

An Athlone-based PhD candidate is using augmented reality (AR) to help cure people of walking abnormalities which, if left untreated, can lead to ‘wear and tear’, arthritis and serious injuries.

Thiago Braga Rodrigues, a Brazilian biomedical engineer studying at Athlone IT, is flipping traditional rehabilitation therapy on its head with an innovative technology-led approach that empowers patients.

“Traditionally, patients rely solely on guided feedback which is given in a clinical setting and requires the presence of an expert to inform the rehabilitation or re-training. It also necessitates a patient travelling many times to and from a clinic,” he explains.

As an alternative, Thiago is using AR ‘smart’ glasses to help patients correct their walking abnormalities. His goal is to help patients better understand and react to feedback so that they can improve their gait in the comfort of their own home.

AR is an immersive mixed-reality technology, synonymous with apps like Instagram and Snapchat, that superimposes static and moving images on a real-world environment. According to the Athlone Institute of Technology researcher, the technology’s potential is only starting to be explored.

The PhD candidate, whose research is funded by the Irish Research Council of Ireland, came to Athlone Institute of Technology from Harvard Medical School, USA, where he studied biomechanics and bioinformatics.

Soon to be graduating with his doctorate, Mr Braga Rodrigues has taken up a post as a lecturer within the Faculty of Engineering and Informatics at Athlone Institute of Technology.