Physiotherapy made fun: How Interactive Games are Helping Patients

An innovative new rehabilitation method is being used in Edmonton, Alberta to help patients regain strength and mobility in their upper body. The rehabilitation exercise comes in the form of playing video games. This may sound farfetched, but a combination of playing physical video games and physiotherapy can help patients with arm and shoulder problems regain the ability to move.

The idea first came from occupational therapy staff at Glenrose hospital as a way to make repetitive actions more interesting. At first devices such as Nintentdo Wii and Xbox Kinnect were used and although they were affective they weren’t very adaptable for patients needs. It was also apparent that software needed to be designed specifically to incorporate the right strength-building actions. The idea was taken to post-graduate students at the University of Alberta who started work on a prototype. The project caught the eye of Rehabtronics, an electronic rehabilitation equipment specialist; they invested in the project and Developed the ReTouch. Click here to see a video of the Rehabilitation Touch Screen, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.

The retouch is a large touch screen device that can play compatible games. The screen can be adjusted by height and screen direction, so it is suitable for wheel chair users, those that can’t stand for long and it can be viewed from various positions. The devices are now being sold across Canada for $10,000 and will be launched internationally next year.

The activities available on the Retouch are games that involve reaching, swiping and pushing things across the screen which are common movements for regaining strength in injured arms and torsos. The software will be suitable for patients who are injured, but also for stroke and brain tumour victims. Instead of simply doing a routine of prescribed actions the patients can now do this whilst having fun, and it will take their mind of any discomfort.

Another great advantage of the ReTouch is that it can recognise patients when they sign in and it can monitor their performance. This means the amount, distance and speed of movements can be recorded and monitored for improvement. Because the software is specifically designed with input from physiotherapists the games can be designed to optimise rehabilitation movements, and the levels of difficulty can take into account each disability.

Until these clever devices are released in the UK, the less fun but tried and trusted methods of traditional physiotherapy remain the best way to recover from strains, injuries and illness. If you’re looking for physiotherapy in London then you’ve come to the right place: we provide manual therapy for injuries and some medical conditions as well as electrotherapy, acupuncture and functional rehabilitation. No matter what your condition, contact us today and we’ll soon have you fighting fit again.

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