Four years ago, Michael Henrikh was riding his motorcycle to the University of Michigan when a rotten tree fell on him and broke his neck, causing him to lose his lower limbs forever. He spent weeks in the intensive care unit, then spent more than two months in inpatient rehabilitation.
Halfway through his rehabilitation work, his occupational therapist, Michael Blastock, asked if he was interested in virtual reality therapy for his therapy. Heinrich, now 26, who is returning to university for his master’s degree, was a gambler.
“I really liked being an eagle trying to get through the rings,” he said, describing the virtual reality experience. “Emotionally, coming back from an injury when I lost most of my body, VR went beyond what I thought was possible.”
Virtual reality, which has long been used for gaming, has shifted to health in recent years for things like pain management and post-traumatic stress disorder.
And now researchers and therapists say it has made great promise in physical therapy.
“I underwent PT for various injuries, և you know that sometimes I come home եմ I kind of look like. “Well, I’m forgetting what I should have done,” said Brennan. SPIEGEL, Professor of Medicine. տնօրեն Public Health տնօրեն Director of Health Research, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles. “How should I create my body for that?” And oh, do I have the motivation to do that now? And VR can help both of them by “reproducing what that physical movement is supposed to be,” I hope by providing some extra motivation to do the exercise.
The use of virtual reality for recovery was growing before the coronavirus epidemic for a variety of reasons, including the rapid advancement of hardware and software and the use of such technologies more conveniently in the younger generation. But the growing popularity of televised health during the epidemic has further stimulated its use.
For one thing, it’s just a lot more fun than traditional rehabilitation exercises. And “VR has the unusual ability to expose the human brain in a way that other audiovisual media cannot,” said Spiegel, one of the leading experts in the use of virtual reality for health. “The bottom line is that it pushes us to do things we might not be able to do.”
That’s what 59-year-old Pamela Pleiants found when she began virtual reality therapy for her injured shoulder. An associate professor at an independent school outside Boston, he learned he was eligible for virtual physical therapy, which he did through XRHealth.
He received a video call from a physical therapist provided by the company and then received a VR headset in the mail. Based on the acceptance, the therapist decided how Pleasants was offered, out of the eight currently offered by the company, in what order, and then trained him on how to use them.
The therapist can also adjust all the parameters of the program. For example, when Pleasants found that the range of motion in one application was causing her too much pain, the therapist adjusted it to a lower level. The patient can change programs either using a controller or by eye.
“He loved different programs, especially the Balloon Blast,” said Pleasants, which consisted of coming out of balloons with a virtual sword in each hand.
“In the background was how high the scope of my movement should be,” he said.
Pleasants also found that stress-reduction programs, such as walking in the woods, were very beneficial for his shoulder and mental health. She continued to meet with her physical therapist on video calls for half a week.
“Four months later, my shoulder felt much better,” he said.
XRHealth is one of the few companies focused on providing VR physical-occupational therapy at home. Based in Boston, it is covered by many Massachusetts insurance programs, as well as by Medicare across the country. The company is working to get more insurance companies to cover its services. Without insurance, people can pay $ 179 a month for two monthly physical or occupational therapy appointments by a group of therapists provided by the company.
The company has all its programs registered with the FDA, said Yeran Or, Founder-CEO.
Not all programs offered for VR recovery are games. Some clinics allow the patient to practice real skills that may have problems, such as grocery shopping or dishwashing.
In fact, in order to promote the use of virtual reality for physical-occupational therapy, “we need to create evidence to show that they are effective, how we pay for it, how we can develop them in an easy-to-use way.” said Matthew Studt, CEO of Applied VR, the CEO of Therapeutic Virtual Reality. “We need to be able to show that we can reduce the cost of care, not just increase the cost paradigm.”
Although research on the use of VR in physical-occupational therapy is in its infancy, Matt K., an assistant professor of marketing and quantitative methods at the University of Southern Alabama. 27 studies by Howard found that VR therapy was generally more effective than traditional programs.
“So VR is better for everything?” Of course not, “he said in an interview. “And a lot of things we don’t know about VR recovery yet.”
Most of the research uses small samples with varying degrees of severity, and more needs to be done to see how patient activity in the virtual world translates into improved physical work, says Daniel Levak, an assistant professor at the Department of Physical Therapy. , Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences at Northeastern University. Levac explores the use of virtual reality systems in pediatric rehabilitation; Many of the children she works with have cerebral palsy.
“We must take into account the negative side of the lack of personal contact with therapists,” he said. “I see VR as a tool that has great potential, but it must be remembered that it must fit into the overall care plan, not replace it.”
Robert Ferguson, a clinical specialist in neuro-rehabilitation-therapeutic technology at the University of Michigan, University of Michigan, has treated many patients with in-hospital VR occupational therapy over the past four years.
In fact, his first patient to use virtual reality was Heinrich, who made him realize the potential of VR so that patients could move in a way that they, their therapists, did not think they could. But, according to him, clinics must be well prepared on how to use the technology in the most useful and effective way. For example, he said, heart patients need to be closely monitored as people tend to work longer and longer on VR than with traditional pain awareness levels, which can be dangerous for such patients.
One of the great advantages of VR therapy is that it can provide a certain flow of information to the clinician և patient about how often: how often the patient has performed each exercise և adjustments if necessary.
And technology is constantly pushing back that border. The new Oculus headset allows you to interact with the virtual environment with a greater degree of freedom, և the newly released phone from HP can track heart rate, pupil dilation and perspiration.
This follow-up is important because the doctor or technician can adjust the load on the patient.
While older people who are more likely to have a stroke, Parkinson’s or just fall, which will require physical or occupational therapy, may find it less able or more reluctant to use the technology, Ferguson and others say it is not usually the case.
“We have treated people aged 18 to 90,” he added.
And in fact, it has been proven that VR therapy can be especially helpful for people with Parkinson և’s other central nervous system disorders.
And he has found many times that people unknowingly did things while using virtual reality that they thought they could not do. He remembers a 50-year-old patient who had his leg amputated. He could not balance when trying to make seemingly simple movements, such as pulling up his pants.
The man was a hunter, և Ferguson offered to try a virtual reality program that included bow hunting. As part of the Part program, the patient stood on one leg “completely changing his center of gravity”, which he was unable to do during regular therapy.
“When we showed the video, he said, ‘I can not do that,'” Ferguson recalled. “We said, ‘You just did it.'”