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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Microsoft Kinect camera helps assess symptoms in multiple sclerosis patients

Luke Dormehl    
Microsoft Kinect camera helps assess symptoms in multiple sclerosis patients Researchers at McGill University have created a motion-recognition algorithm that lets the Microsoft Kinect camera help evaluate walking abnormalities in patients with multiple sclerosis.

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Microsoft’s motion and depth-sensing Kinect camera may be most commonly used for gaming, but researchers at McGill University have come up with another use entirely for it: as a diagnostic tool to help evaluate the walking difficulties of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

“The Kinect camera appealed to us because it was inexpensive, portable and easy-to-use,” McGill University postdoctoral fellow Farnood Gholami told Digital Trends. “We developed a framework which means that when a patient walks in front of the camera, our algorithm can identify whether the subject has gait abnormality or not — and also quantify that level of gait abnormality in terms of how serious it is.”

At present, assessing these kind of walking difficulties — one of the symptoms of MS, caused by nerve damage as a result of the disease — is usually carried out by a physician. “The challenge with this kind of diagnosis is that it can be very subjective,” Gholami said. “Clinicians observe the walking of a patient and, based on their expertise, assign a clinical score. The problem is that different clinicians can assign different scores to the same subject. I had the idea of coming up with a more systematic and accurate way of assessing people with this kind of gait abnormality.”
To create their algorithm, the McGill University researchers first analyzed the movement of ten MS patients, along with ten members of a control group. By pinpointing certain gait characteristics, they were then able to come up with a tool able to distinguish between the walking patterns of people suffering from MS and those who were not.

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