About Virtual Reality Prosthetics – Body & Mind

This exciting project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, is designed to engage the public with emerging technologies and cutting-edge multi-disciplinary research linking Biomedical Science, Psychology, Physiotherapy and Virtual Reality.

We will create interactive and VR resources which enable the public to improve their understanding of joint physiology and how our brains control movements, even when using prosthetic limbs, stimulating debate about limb loss versus views of ‘normality’.

There will be activities in local schools and local and national pop-up exhibitions to target new audiences, building interest in how the body works, how our brains control our movements and the lived experience of people with limb loss.

Project Background

Since September 2013 our team have been working on a project about Virtual Reality and upper limb prosthetics, which was funded as part of a scheme run by Sheffield Hallam University to encourage multidisciplinary working. The project had two strands: the first engaged young people in considering the issues around limb loss and prosthetics, and supported them through a series of workshops to design prostheses; whilst the second focused on the development of a virtual reality environment in which upper limb prosthetics could be tested by people with upper limb reduction.

The project successfully piloted the VR environment with acquired and congenital upper limb amputees, including Kevin Everson as depicted in the above video. Currently the VR environment is under development to support further prosthetic training. For a more in-depth look at these early stages, with additional videos, please visit our page on the University’s Changing Lives website.

Going Forward

A strong ethos of the project has been public and schools engagement. In our experience, the public are fascinated by the VR technology, and this has facilitated engagement with associated activities around the challenges experienced by people with limb loss, and the biomechanics of limb movement and prosthetic design.

The success we have had to date has inspired us to expand our activities to engage wider audiences. Here, we aim to stimulate interest, excitement and debate about biomedical science through a number of interactive activities.

The overall objective of the project is to develop a range of interactive activities and exhibits together with UTCs/schools, partners, stakeholders and users about joint physiology, prosthetics, and the lived experience of people with limb loss, and to deliver this exhibition in a range of museum and non-museum spaces both locally and nationally.

Have a comment or query about this project, or want to get involved? PleaseĀ get in touch.