Regaining Lost Function with the Help of Video Games
JANE RACEY GLEESON
Gaming technology enjoyed by millions in leisure time is finding a new audience: Michigan Medicine rehabilitation patients.
At first glance, the Michigan Medicine Inpatient Rehabilitation Computer Therapy Lab might appear to be all fun and games.
That’s the intent. Many of the rehabilitation programs developed in the lab are based on gaming technologies — and designed to get patients active and engaged.
Such patients include those recovering from strokes as well as spinal cord and head injuries. Most are eager to get started on any given day, says Rob Ferguson, MHS, OTRL, a manager at the University of Michigan Stroke Rehabilitation Program and an occupational therapy clinical specialist.
The reason? Gaming promotes the repetition, intensity and task-oriented training needed to support an individual’s rehabilitation goals.
It also offers a distraction for some patients.
“They often have no idea they’re doing so many repetitions because they become immersed in the experience,” Ferguson says. “They lose track of their effort.”
Launched in 2008 and associated with the Stroke Rehabilitation Program, the Computer Therapy Lab is one of only a few such facilities in the country. It incorporates the therapeutic use of technology to help develop physical, cognitive, perceptual and visual skills to improve a patient’s level of function and independence.