University Students and Faculty Work to Reconfigure XBOX for Disabled Teen

3/17/09

The University of Scranton Physics/Electrical Engineering Department has been awarded a $7,500 grant by the Northeast Pennsylvania Technology Institute to reconfigure an XBOX to meet the physical capabilities of a 14-year-old boy with a spinal cord injury. His play on the XBOX would then be incorporated into the boy's physician-directed physical therapy plan.

A team of University of Scranton engineering students and faculty from the Physics/Electrical Engineering and Occupational Therapy departments has joined with Avad Haboubi, Ph.D., director of rehabilitation technologies at Allied Services Rehabilitation Hospital, who is treating the 14-year-old, to work on the project, which is expected to be complete in late summer.

According to Dr. Haboubi the idea for the initiative began when the boy, who has spinal cord injury, expressed a desire to play XBOX games. Individuals who have this type of injury typically have full head and neck movement, limited shoulder, wrist and elbow movements, limited finger movement, and complete paralysis of body and legs. 

The team will custom redesign an XBOX 360 game controller to respond to the boy's shoulder, wrist and elbow movements to allow him to play XBOX games, and to use these motions during play to improve his functional movement.

Another advantage of the proposed system is that the player would be able to use the headset to chat with the other online players, taking advantage of the social aspects enabled by XBOX Live.

Popular among teenage boys, many of Microsoft's XBOX games can be played live with others online. By using headphones and XBOX Live, players can even chat as they play, enhancing the games as a social activity for teens.

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