KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — New technology is helping people recover after traumatic incidents. The Knoxville Rehabilitation Hospital is using virtual reality games as a tool for physical therapy.
It’s one of the first healthcare facilities to adopt the “Real System’s Virtual Reality Technology” into its practice. Officials say it can help motivate patients recovering from a range of medical conditions like strokes, orthopedic injuries, and several others.
An occupational therapist at the hospital said the games can help with everything from range of motion, to balance and even cognition and fine motor skills.
“I was a little skeptical at first just because it was new and I’d never used it before, but I’ve found that every person that uses it really enjoys it and its just another tool that I can put in my tool chest to get someone engaged or get them really motivated for therapy and I can actually see information on the tablet where they’re improving from session to session so a lot of good tangible outcomes,” said Maddie Mitchell, an OT at Knoxville Rehab Hospital.
Mitchell went on to explain how within the VR system there are different worlds they can use to focus on different things, like balance, range of motion and neuroplasticity after a stroke. She said the VR allows them to build on the basic principle of physical therapy and offer each patient a more targeted experience to help them get back to normal life.
Knoxville Rehab Hospital uses VR technology because of how it can engage patients. Therapists say they’ve seen fewer patients cancel their appointments since they started using VR.
“People don’t realize how hard they’re working inside the VR, it seems so easy because it’s just a game but they’re really engaged and they don’t even know that it been 30 to 45 minutes before they’re done,” said Mitchell.
It can be used to help just about anyone whether they’re recovering from a stroke or injury or simply struggling with anxiety according to Knoxville Rehab.