AR tech gives haemophilia patients a glimpse of the future

Monday, 27 June, 2022

AR tech gives haemophilia patients a glimpse of the future

An Australian-designed augmented reality technology was recently unveiled at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, where it will enable young people living with haemophilia to view the potentially irreversible impact of disabling joint disease.

Haemophilia, an incurable, inherited rare blood disorder, is estimated to impact more than 3000 Australians. It is diagnosed when there is not enough clotting factor VIII(8) or IX(9) in the blood to help control bleeding in the body; this bleeding most commonly occurs in the joints of the knees, elbows and ankles, and can lead to joint disease if not treated adequately. As haemophilia is also an inherited condition diagnosed at birth, joint disease caused by haemophilia can begin to develop as early as the age of 20.

The Augmented Reality Joint Scanner was developed by healthcare company Sanofi and is provided on loan to hospitals across Australia as an educational resource for patients and their families. To be used by clinical staff in the Kids’ Factor Zone at Westmead’s Paediatric Haematology Unit, it will help educate young patients and their families on the possible future impact of joint disease and the importance of maintaining a regular treatment program to help prevent bleeding episodes.

The scanner utilises a ‘leap motion’ 3D camera attached to a computer to scan and map a person’s hand when placed under the device. A specially designed software then overlays imagery onto the user’s hand to replicate normal aging and the impact of joint disease. While the scanner uses only the user’s hand as its reference point, it cleverly allows the user to expand the replicated view on the screen beyond the hand to see what is happening elsewhere in the body, focusing on specific joints known to be impacted by haemophilia including the shoulder, knee or ankle.

Ambulance worker Tim Demos, who lives with severe haemophilia A, said the scanner provides an insightful and startling lens into what life can look like if he doesn’t continue to pay attention to his haemophilia management. “This scanner has helped to strengthen my understanding that what I do now will determine how I live with my haemophilia for the rest of my life,” he said.

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