Technology is constantly evolving, and with it, our lives. The world of rehabilitation services is no different—and is currently seeing considerable changes as a result of technological breakthroughs. These innovations offer promising opportunities for improved diagnosis, treatment, and resident engagement.
From virtual reality and video games to robotics and sensors that gauge body function, technological advancements in rehabilitation services can help improve a resident’s recovery, while leading to improved outcomes.
Read on for a look at three ways technology is changing the landscape for rehab services and revolutionizing the industry.
Rehab Services Innovation: Apps and Computer Programs
Smartphone and tablet apps for rehab services professionals and residents are becoming a growing trend. Many of these apps are inexpensive or sometimes free.
When utilized, these apps allow residents or providers to track customized exercise programs, access orthopedic diagnosis tools, and view clinical tests, among other things.
Computer programs can also be useful once residents are discharged safely to home. Patients can watch personalized videos that help them continue physical therapy exercises away from the Skilled Nursing Facility. Patients are kept accountable by keeping an online diary that their therapist can later check to ensure they are following through with their therapy, which is key to continued optimal recovery.
With images, protocols, printable exercises, and evaluation forms, these apps and computer programs have the potential to help SNFs save time and money while promoting resident engagement and improved outcomes.
Rehab Services Innovation: Video Games and Virtual Reality
For the past few years, a growing number of therapy service providers have been incorporating video games such as the Nintendo Wii into their therapy services.
Games for this console use motion-sensitive controllers and repetitive movements, similar to exercises performed during a typical physical therapy session.
Utilized in conjunction with traditional rehab services, these video game programs are an effective way to engage residents toward recovery.
Virtual reality is another way technology is being incorporated into therapy services to improve resident outcomes. Although this technology has been used in therapy services for nearly a decade, today’s virtual reality programs offer residents a more immersive, interactive therapy experience than ever before.
The technology can be used to help residents who’ve suffered strokes or other traumatic conditions improve their balance, coordination, and mobility.
Rehab Services Innovation: Robotics
Technology has also led to advancement in medical equipment, such as robotics and anti-gravity treadmills to assist residents with movement and ambulation.
Rehabilitation robots can assist therapists with exercises that advance recovery for residents with neurological impairments, such as those recovering after stroke or other traumatic brain injuries. Since repetitive movement is vital for recovery, robots can help increase the number of repetitions performed by residents—up to 10 times the number of repetitions during a typical one-hour session.
Robotic exoskeletons represent the next generation of recovery assistance for residents. These advancements help power hip and knee motion that allows residents who would not be able to stand or walk without assistance to do so, which helps promote recovery.
Anti-gravity robotic treadmills are another promising technology that allows residents who suffer from neurological conditions to regain or improve their ability to move and walk. Therapists suspend residents over the treadmill using a harness, then residents legs are supported by the robot’s “legs.” A computer records and personalizes the treadmill’s pace, while measuring progress.
This type of equipment helps residents lessen the amount of body weight that’s placed on their lower body. It also allows them to get exercise and work on their gait pain-free, while reducing pressure on their bones and joints.
While rehab services have been and always will be a hands-on world, technology is opening new worlds in the field. Advances in robotics and software help therapy professionals reach more residents, provide more precise diagnoses, and increase clinical efficiencies. Additionally, such advances promote engagement with residents that can lead to better overall outcomes.
At Apex Rehab Solutions, we work hard to incorporate the latest best practices in therapy services. Partner with us today by calling (412) 963-9698.