Seeking to transform physical rehabilitation for their patients, six Alaris Member Health Centers in New Jersey recently installed a cutting edge and state of the art “virtual” rehabilitation system in their therapy departments. This technology is making the rehabilitation process more fun and interactive for patients.
The new system uses a sophisticated 3D camera to capture the patient’s image, which is converted into an “avatar” by computer software and introduced into a video game-like environment, displayed on a large, easy to see, color monitors. With the assistance and supervision of a specially trained therapist, patients participate in six different “interactive” exercises selected for the individual’s unique rehabilitation needs. The programs focus on strength, balance, mobility, walking, endurance and memory and include geriatric-friendly hand controls.
“Alaris Member Health Centers are extending their commitment to advanced rehabilitation technology to improve care and to enhance the recovery process for patients,” said Avery Eisenreich, Founder of Alaris Health of New Jersey.
The new system, called the OmniVRTM, is being used at: Alaris Health at Cherry Hill in Camden County; at Alaris Health at Riverton (Rahway) in Union County; and at Alaris Health at Belgrove (Kearny), Alaris Health at Cedar Grove, Alaris Health at Essex (Irvington), and Alaris Health at West Orange, all in Essex County. Founded on a tradition of health care excellence, Alaris’ Member Health Centers are leading providers of short-term post hospital rehabilitation, long term and specialty care, with Member Health Centers throughout New Jersey.
Unlike off-the-shelf video games, this system was developed specifically for people with physical limitations and geared toward the geriatric population. The graphics are relatively simple and no special platforms or hand controllers are needed. The system also provides positive reinforcement rather than a “win-lose” approach, which can be discouraging. Most importantly, the system is focused on professional therapy applications rather than the recreational focus of traditional video game systems.
Patients showing encouraging progress
Therapists at Alaris Member Health Centers report that patients using the new system actually exercise harder and longer, and are more successful in overcoming their fears when using the new technology.
“The machines have been used very heavily and the patients seem to really like them,” said Leslie Bodnar, therapist at The Alaris at the Chateau. “One of our patients in particular loved that VR machine, thought it was a real challenge and was discharged home more quickly, significantly stronger and with more endurance.”
Research indicates that patients will exercise harder and longer when “immersed” in a virtual rehabilitation environment providing positive reinforcement. This is an important advantage for many aging adults, particularly those who are reluctant to participate in the therapy process or are fearful due to physical limitations.
“Our staff was very excited about the introduction of the system and they started using the Omnicycle even before training began,” said Sindy Vaillencourt, Administrator at Alaris Health at West Orange. “We had several patients using the unit with excellent patient and therapist feedback. One patient was so impressed that he wanted his own OmniVRTM unit for home use.”
For more information about any of our Member Health Centers, please call (855) 7-ALARIS.