Knoxville Rehab Hospital using virtual reality to help stroke patients

REAL System allows occupational therapists to track progress of patients through VR
REAL System allows occupational therapists to track progress of patients through VR
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 8:11 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Knoxville Rehab Hospital is using virtual reality to treat some of its patients to help them with their physical and mental health.

Occupational therapists use the technology for several types of patients like those who’ve suffered a stroke, orthopedic, neurological or other injuries.

“When I first got a hold of VR I was a little skeptical,” said occupational therapist Maddie Mitchell. “A lot of technology is above and beyond what I have known and it’s really a comfort thing so as soon as I trial and errored it now I can do things really quickly and efficiently.”

Patients can play several different games in the VR headset for different forms of rehab. Health experts can then check how someone’s range of motion has improved, monitor visual and spatial skills, and check posture.

The technology can also help some regain function in different parts of their body.

“These are actually tangible numbers that I can actually compare from week to week or day to day and it’s going to tell me percentage of accuracy on left to right and it’s going to give me a sustained isometric hole,” Mitchell said. “All of the information that’s good for us and proving to insurance that this is a beneficial thing to have.”

Mitchell said many of her patients enjoy using VR for rehab because it creates a stress-free environment for the patients. It also allows her and other occupational therapists to work on multiple things at the same time.

“We’re also dual tasking so I can ask people questions. I can have them say are you using your left hand or your right hand? What are you seeing in there? So they’re multitasking like you would in the grocery store or if you’re doing chores around the house,” Mitchell said.

Knoxville Rehab Hospital still uses conventional forms of rehab, but VR adds another tool to what they can do.