Bielefeld University - Success in "Hightech.NRW" Competition

The main goal of the project is to develop a uniquely new kind of medical product that will apply virtual reality (VR) for diagnosis and rehabilitation in neurology, psychiatry, and neuropsychology. It will be designed particularly for the functional brain disorders that frequently follow strokes, accidental brain damage, and neurological or psychiatric disorders. Despite the enormous costs to society of such illnesses, efficient and patient-friendly diagnosis and treatment methods are still lacking, particularly when higher cognitive functions are impaired. VR techniques can be used to create dynamic and interactive environments with which to (a) diagnose the cognitive processes underlying behavioural reactions and (b) permit a rehabilitation of functional brain disorders that is close to daily life. The efficacy of this uniquely new kind of VR system platform will be evaluated in a multicentre clinical study in the psychiatric and neurological departments of the Evangelische Krankenhaus Bielefeld GmbH, Bethel, and the Neurorehabilitation Bad Driburg.

Over the next 3 years, the NRW Innovation Ministry will be providing 1.7 million Euros of funding for the project. It is one of the winners of the "Hightech.NRW" advanced technology competition first held in 2008 with the goal of promoting new high-tech cooperation projects with users and industrial partners. The interdisciplinary project has close ties to the Centre of Excellence on Cognitive Interaction Technology CITEC" and will be managed by Prof. Dr. Mario Botsch (Faculty of Technology) and PD. Dr. Martina Piefke (Physiological Psychology). Bielefeld University's project partner is the distributor Velamed GmbH, which specializes in biomechanical sensory and motor movement systems and analyses the marketability of VR products. There are also cooperations with other companies in NRW working on the development of medical technology as well as the Humboldt University in Berlin.