Fun and games with virtual rehab

August 24, 2009 3:23:53 PM PDT
Video games are often used in rehab to help children get back on their feet. But now it's being taken to a new level by throwing the patient into a game and at the same time keeping track of the medical statistics as a computer compares workout sessions as patients improve. These virtual games look a bit like the Wii video game. And while this game is fun, it is also helping to build strong muscles in patients whose muscles are weak by helping them to improve balance, coordination and strength.

"Everyone likes to play games. That's what to focus on. It's a new way of treating patients," said Janet Persaud with the Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.

Eighty nine year old Mildred Lee does reaching exercises to counter a fear of moving after a bad ankle sprain that she also has problems standing on. She's been doing virtual rehab for two weeks.

"I couldn't walk. I couldn't put weight on it. No weight at all. Now, I'm walking with a walker," said Mildred Lee.

And patients' sometimes even recover faster.

"They're more motivated they engage more, and they definitely improve at a faster rate," said Janet.

It's fun and also hard work as patients play against virtual team mates. But it's work with a purpose. Diana Wilson had her right hip replaced in July and is strengthening both legs.

"I'm getting an intense workout. If I'm doing it without the screen, I can stop at any time, but with the screen you can't, you got to keep going," said Wilson.


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