A new report
from globeandmail has highlighted a cutting edge computer system in use at the Chaim Sheba Rehabilitation Hospital near Tel Aviv that uses virtual reality as a means to assist patients with recovering from severe injuries and disorders.
Described as offering a “fully reactive virtual and physical environment” the $650,000 Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment computer system is one of only a dozen in the world being used in a clinics, and according to the report offers the ability to decrease the time normally needed for rehabilitation, while at the same time makes the process much easier with which to cope.
Sgt. Idan Borovski, who was wounded following an attack on a Lebanese village that left him with little feeling and limited use of his leg, commented of the rehabilitation sim: “You are actually in a game. You are playing. You don't notice the pain and you can work harder.”
The system works by placing tiny sensors on the patient, and uses a dozen high-speed infrared cameras, a moving platform that reacts to the patients' weight and movement, and a life size 3D screen. Patients are then immersed within a number of virtual environments, which each simulate real world activities such as riding in a boat or taking a walk.
The report notes that other scenarios, just as a supermarket where patients will have to interact with and pick up groceries, are already being planned. The computer system lets patients fully interact with the simulated world, and even offers video game style objectives such as steering a dinghy around checkpoints in order to reach the finish line.
“The system helps to strengthen muscles, to improve your stability, balance, and to translate it to everyday life,” commented Dr. Itzhak Siev-Ner, head of orthopedic rehabilitation at Sheba, who noted the potential benefits afforded by virtual reality therapy. “The integration of all these activities — and this is oversimplifying it — enhances the plasticity of the central nervous system.”