Paranthaman, Vallabhajosula present computer science, physical therapy research collaboration

Paranthaman presented at the World Conference on Smart Trends in Systems, Security and Sustainability; Vallabhajosula presented at the North American Congress of Biomechanics.

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Pratheep Paranthaman presented his research of the application of virtual and mixed realities in the context of physical therapy assessment at the online version of sixth World Conference on Smart Trends in Systems, Security and Sustainability (WS4) in London last month.

A user wears a virtual reality headset while walking with an assistant and testing the VR-based physical therapy application that examines how people navigate obstacles.
A user tests the virtual reality-based physical therapy application developed by researchers at Elon University.

Paranthaman’s paper was part of a cross-disciplinary research project between the Department of Computer Science and Elon’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Physical therapy faculty Associate Professor Srikant Vallabhajosula and Assistant Professor Alys Giordano, and physical therapy students Oliver Tuisa and Stacey Walton, participated in the research with Paranthaman.

Paranthaman developed two applications — one in virtual reality and another in mixed reality — and Vallabhajosula, Giordano, and students used these applications for assessment of obstacle clearance tasks in young adults.
Their findings were presented as a research paper, titled “User Experience Analysis in Obstacle Clearance Tasks in Virtual and Mixed Reality Environments.”

“The research and development process were more iterative and there were multiple lab tests in the biomechanics lab to ensure the better functioning of virtual and mixed reality systems. Overall the cross-disciplinary nature of the project enabled us to address the individual research questions in the field and to find a way for combining those research questions to achieve a common goal that would contribute toward both fields of physical therapy and computer science,” Paranthaman said.

Dr. Srikant Vallabhajosula and Physical Therapy student and co-researcher Stacey Walton attend the American College of Sports Medicine in San Diego, CA.
Dr. Srikant Vallabhajosula and Physical Therapy student and co-researcher Stacey Walton

Recently, Vallabhajosula also presented work for this cross-disciplinary project at the 2022 North American Congress of Biomechanics (NACOB) conference in Ottawa, Canada. This international conference is a joint meeting of the Canadian Society for Biomechanics and the American Society of Biomechanics.

The team plans to expand their research with older adults, including a second round of user studies in-progress with participants using the virtual and mixed reality devices in obstacle clearance tasks.