As the largest rehab network in western Pennsylvania, UPMC Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (IRR) works with patients to make every day independence day. Rehabilitation for individuals who have suffered strokes, traumatic brain injuries, or neurological disorders resulting in hand and arm impairment can be tough work, however efforts at the IRR look to having fun with video games as a means to achieving best possible patient outcomes. Per McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
affiliated faculty member Michael Boninger, MD, chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at University of Pittsburgh Medical School and director of the IRR, “It is great to see patients enjoying playing a game, when you know what they are actually doing is the hard work of rehabilitation.”
One sustainable and powerful comprehensive therapy concept based on research development activities at the University of Twente and Roessingh Research and Development in Enschede, Netherlands, and created by Hocoma, a Swiss manufacturer of robotic rehabilitative equipment, is the Armeo Therapy Concept. The RRI is the only U.S. facility using its products—the Armeo Boom (pictured top) and the Armeo Spring (pictured bottom)—in a clinical setting. Hocoma’s computer software interface offers several reach-and-retrieval computer games, such as solitaire and catching raindrops with a teacup, along with simulated everyday tasks, like virtually frying an egg or cleaning a picture. To use the Armeo Boom, patients strap their arms into a neoprene sling attached to an overhead boom. The Armeo Spring is an ergonomically designed, lightweight metal exoskeleton that embraces the whole arm and has a handgrip.
Despite a patient’s disorder, research suggests that the neural plasticity of the brain is retained and new connections can be made through intensive, repetitive, and task-oriented movements. Using clinical evidence as a basis and through the combination of three key features—arm weight support, augmented feedback, and assessment tools—the Armeo Therapy Concept addresses different patient and therapeutic needs across the whole continuum of rehabilitation. The Armeo Therapy Concept improves the efficiency of therapy treatments because the exercises are self-initiated, self-directed, functional, and intense. Even severely impaired patients can practice independently, without the constant presence of a therapist, allowing patients to exploit their full potential for recovery.
“We are excited to see the progress our patients make while they have fun using this equipment,” says Dr. Boninger.
Hocoma: Armeo Therapy Concept
Hocoma: The Armeo Spring (w/video)
Hocoma: The Armeo Boom
UPMC Institute for Rehabilitation and Research
Bio: Dr. Michael Boninger