WEDNESDAY, October 14, 2009
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Brachocki: Advances in inertial sensor integration -- through embedded solutions, embedded intelligence and integrated sensing -- are driving new motion-based products and applications (see figure). Two of these applications, Gaming and Healthcare, are merging to create submarkets for products and services in both industries. This talk will explore how one leading accelerometer company has expanded their offerings to include gaming content as part of a solutions approach to this growing market, and we will look at two healthcare companies, one big and one small, who are using motion and gaming technologies to offer healthcare solutions to customers and patients alike.
Smith and Feighery:
Aimed primarily at video game fans, the Nintendo Wii gaming system has taken on a different and evolving
therapeutic role. Today, the Wii has become a fun part of the rehabilitation process and a form
of "therapy" for veterans and returning service members at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System
(VAPAHCS) Polytrauma program.
The Polytrauma Unit, which cares for severely injured servicemembers with Traumatic Brain
Injury (TBI) and other serious and often life-threatening injuries, has introduced the Wii system during Recreation Therapy treatment sessions.
Polytrauma refers to the complex patterns of injury commonly seen in personnel injured during Iraq and Afghanistan deployments. Polytrauma typically results from blast injury caused by improvised explosive devices or rocket-propelled grenades. The combination of high-pressure waves, explosive fragments, and falling debris produce multiple injuries, including brain injury, amputations, burns, wounds, fractures, blindness and hearing loss.
The magnitude of these injuries and the circumstances in which they occur can cause additional psychological stress to patients and their families. Consequently, their care requires a full complement of medical, surgical, rehabilitation and mental health personnel and services. From a recreation therapist perspective, the emphasis and treatment goal of using the Wii may include increasing the patient's hand-eye coordination, improving balance, strength and movement, and overall safety in their environment. The activities are something patients enjoy and benefit from and continue using when they go home. From the patient perspective, it's all about "having fun." While bowling, a patient mentioned that he never knew "therapy" could be such fun. It helps patients get back into communicating and socializing with their families, friends and comrades in other locations. The virtual togetherness is a great way to help them in their recovery and rehabilitation process.
The inpatient Polytrauma program currently has three recreational therapists, who meet with patients during individual and groups sessions. "Using the Wii system and gaming can enhance part of the treatment session. Arm movements during boxing and recreation therapy sessions can
also address issues brought up in other areas, such as physical therapy.
Much of the responsibility for the transitional outpatient Recreation Therapy programs is in the hands of Susan Feighery, Lead Recreational Therapist. The program's work involves applying current technology to meet the clinical needs of recently wounded combat service personnel.
For example, the program uses the Wii Brain Academy game to increase cognition, memory, and
mathematical and visual scanning skills with head-injured patients. In addition, the Wii Sports program allows patients, families and friends to compete athletically, while the recreation therapist measures and monitors the physical recovery process.
The recently released Wii Fitness program teaches other mind/body fitness skills through innovative activities, such as yoga and hula hoop contests. Additionally, all Wii programs, when clinically utilized, can address specific patient deficits via interventions involving behavioral, social, physical and cognitive applications, which can then be directly transferred to the patients' home environment when they return to their local communities. There is a huge learning curve, but tools such as Wii and the XBox360 make treatment sessions enjoyable for both patients and clinicians. Using gaming technologies is breaking new clinical grounds, new treatment strategies are developed.
Richard K. Smith is the Supervisor of Polytrauma Recreation Therapy programs at Palo Alto Veterans Administration Health Care system. He is nationally certified as a CTRS-Certified Recreation Therapist and CBIS-Certified Brain Injury Specialist.
He currently is a member of a working group with the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop and formulate a National Assistive Technology Labs project at Palo Alto VA HCS which will also be implemented at 4 primary Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers nationally.
He has utilized Assistive technology applications for rehabilitation for many years and as a Recreation Therapist works with gaming systems and various adapted technologies for treatment of various severely injured patients, veterans and service members. He has a special interest in new gaming applications and simulation technologies which can be adapted or modified for serving patients at various stages in the rehabilitation process.
Susan Feighery has had more than 20 years of experience functioning as a clinician in the fields of Polytrauma, substance abuse, PTSD, community-based health care, sexual trauma, sub-acute, head-injury, visual/hearing impairments and behavioral health services. Nineteen years in the Armed Forces included service as both an enlisted personnel (E-3 to E-5P) and a Medical Service Corps Officer (2LT-CPT). Military background includes: Commander of a Military Treatment Facility (MTF); Operations Officer for a Special Operations battalion (active secret clearance from 1996-2001); acting team leader (Environmental Science Officer) for a Public Health team; specialist on a Combat Stress Control Team (combat environment); and EMT/medic. Private, non-government experience includes: Ad Hoc Faculty instructor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Consultant and Training Coordinator at the Oneida Nation Indian Reservation, and Director of the Easter Seals residential camp. She has an MS in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of Wisconsin.
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