Residents Find Fun in Physical Therapy through Video Games

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Playing a video game where he had to "catch" fresh-laid chicken eggs before they hit the ground may have seemed like fun to Boyd Schmidt. But there was more to the action unfolding on the TV screen than having a good time. For the 84-year-old Goleta resident recovering from hip surgery, entering a world where he had to place a pillow under the falling eggs was an integral part of his physical therapy. The game, similar to Nintendo Wii without the wand, had Mr. Schmidt moving his hands back and forth — essentially hen to hen — as if he were maneuvering the pillow. A camera above the screen tracked his movements.

Consonus Rehab, the company overseeing therapists at Valle Verde, is making occupational, physical, speech and cognition therapy fun with OmniVR, virtual rehabilitation technology manufactured by Reno-based Accelerated Care Plus. The device projects seniors' movements on the screen and works different parts of the body. Introduced this spring at Valle Verde, the game has helped 30 of our seniors, who like pushing themselves to get more points during private sessions with therapists.

The game helps them with balance, range of motion, strength and eye-hand coordination, helping seniors recover from knee and hip replacements and various fractures. Depending on patient ability, the therapist can adjust the speed of the game as well as the level of difficulty.

"I can make the eggs fall faster. A wolf can go and scare the chickens, so he (Mr. Schmidt) would have to lift his arms to scare the wolf," occupational therapist Justin Church said as Mr. Schmidt kept catching eggs. "I can work core strength with this."

"They're excited to go. They say, 'Are we going to do that today?'" said Valle Verde executive director Melissa Honig. "For them to be motivated during such a difficult time is really important. We want them to know there are different options available. It doesn't have to be traditional therapy."

Click here to view the full story from the Santa Barbara News Press.


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