Using games to create rehab tools

Marcus King works at the interface of machines and people on projects ranging from wearables to training aids.

Marcus is a Distinguished Engineer with the Advanced Manufacturing team, Callaghan Innovation, developing rehabilitation technologies to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities and reduce the costs of healthcare. He’s also a Principal Investigator with MedTech CoRE and a committee member of the Consortium for Medical Device Technologies.

“My current focus is technology at the interface of machines and people related to industrial and health-related developments. These are as diverse as wearables for the corrections systems and training aids for first responders.”

Marcus sees opportunities for gamification of rehabilitation processes, including VR, for both clinical interventions and training, and wearables for lifestyle tracking and behaviour modification. He’s been working with gaming company CerebralFix, and rehabilitation centre Laura Ferguson Trust alongside University of Otago’s Jo Nunnerley to advance their virtual reality (VR) game for traumatic brain Injury (TBI) patients.

“The biggest challenge facing assistive devices is clinicians and patients accepting technology in their practise or in modifications to their daily living. Technology has potential to change almost everything about our lifestyles and how we interact with our environment, but if it doesn’t make a person’s life more fulfilling or find favour with clinicians, then it’s failed,” he says.

What’s the most useful technology for future initiatives? The mobile phone. “It’s such a powerful tool for effecting lifestyle or behaviour changes and we’re just starting to understand how it can be used for these applications.”

For Marcus, his satisfaction comes from seeing the benefits that low-cost tech can make to individuals with major obstacles in their lives.

While he’s focused on getting bright ideas into production and clinical use, he says there are multiple challenges to be overcome, including investment into interesting health tech systems.

By Prue Scott

Marcus King