By Liam Johnson

Hello all from New York City!

I have been in New York since mid-December last year working on a research project with Assistant Professor David Putrino at Burke Medical Rehabilitation Institute. But it would be prudent for me to go back a little to describe my time in Vancouver, where I spent a great 2 weeks with Professor Lara Boyd and Professor Janice Eng and their respective teams. I was incredibly fortunate to have our very own Kate Hayward help me put together a fantastic itinerary for my time in Vancouver, which included participating in some research at Professor Boyd’s Brain Behaviour Laboratory, meeting with Kristin Campbell, who has done a lot of great work in exercise and cancer studies, and presenting my own research to the kinesiology and physical therapy department at the University of British Columbia. I was also able to chat with Professor Eng and her research team at GF Strong and give a presentation on early rehabilitation after stroke to Neurologists at Vancouver General Hospital. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kate for her amazing hospitality and support in making my time in Vancouver so productive.

As you might imagine, it has been a very interesting time to be in the US, and New York specifically, with all that is happening around the new President of the US. It is certainly an experience I won’t forget soon. Burke Medical Rehabilitation Institute is located in White Plains, which is roughly a 30-minute train ride from Manhattan. A/Prof Putrino is head of the Institute’s Telemedicine research group, and together we are working on an exploratory research project that aims to apply state-of-the-art algorithms to a motion capture system. The Kinect2 system is an innovative motion capture device that features a high definition (HD) infrared (IR) camera and a 3-Dimensional (3D) tracking sensor. The combined data will allow for detailed skeletal data to be collected. The technology can record 3D tracking of up to 25 individual joints. While testing a patient’s balance, we are using the Kinect2 to video the subject’s movements from the front and side. We are collaborating with a neuroscientist from NYU who will lead our analytics approach. This involves taking the Kinect2’s kinematic output to quantify seemingly subjective features precisely in natural movement scenarios. It is hoped that it will mimic the way clinicians assess balance ability from observation, but with the convenience of making those assessments remotely and automatically. We aim to demonstrate the ability of this system to both monitor and treat balance problems initially in the clinic, and at home over the long term.