After watching her grandparents and their friends repeatedly become discouraged with an increasing technology-focused society, Shayna Parker wanted to make life for seniors a little easier.
The Thunder Bay woman is working on her masters at Lakehead University, working closely with the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute in neuro-imaging studies and now she also has a $50,000 grant from the Ontario Brain Institute to develop a stroke recovery application.
“What I’m building is a brain-based training game designed for people who have had a stroke and lost some of the function in their hands to kind of regain that control over the motor functions in their hand,” said Parker.
She said she’s seen how difficult and frustrating it can be for stroke patients to go through physical rehabilitation.
“I wanted to make something that was going to be really fun and engaging for them to do, something that didn’t feel like work,” Parker said.
A game seemed like the ideal solution.
The game doesn’t require much physical activity as it focuses on rebuilding and strengthening connections in the brain that will help regain the physical functions.
Family members can play along and the goal is to make the game go online.
Parker couldn’t divulge too many details about the actual gameplay just yet, but said it’s a touchscreen game based on a simple concept.
“A lot of stroke patients are older people and they can be a little bit leery of technology,” she said. “I designed it to be the most simple concept I could.”
Parker was inspired to work on a project that would benefit seniors because of her close relationship with her grandparents.
“People lose patience very easily sometimes with older people so I wanted to get into something that can help them and be friendly for them and get them connected with the younger generation as well,” she added.
Parker has been working on the app with the help of LU and the TBRRI and was one of seven scientists awarded a $50,000 grant last Friday in Toronto from the OBI.
The grant is to help develop the projects commercially and the year-long funding also provides industry mentors and training.