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Rockleigh Jewish Home Unveils Virtual Reality Rehab Program

The Rockleigh Jewish Home is using video games to help patients.
The Rockleigh Jewish Home is using video games to help patients. Photo Credit: Jewish Family Home

ROCKLEIGH, N.J. -- The Jewish Home Family has rolled out an innovative system that uses state-of-the-art video gaming technology to provide enhanced physical therapy and exercise for residents.

The Virtual Rehab Program, or VRP, goes beyond the Wii system that has been in place for years, using Microsoft's cutting-edge Kinect sensors -- which is available to consumers with the Xbox One system -- but with an entire suite of software developed by the Jewish Home's rehab partner, Functional Pathways. The sensors monitor the person's entire body, transposing their movements onto the screen as they confront various "gamified" scenarios.

VRP allows the therapist and patient to work on balance, coordination, range of motion and cognitive activities. The system will adjust the activity based on whether the patient is sitting or standing and whether they use an assistive device, like a cane or walker. Long-term residents, as well as short-term rehab patients, are presented with challenges, such as kicking a virtual soccer ball into a goal, or guiding a fish that responds to their movements to swim in a particular direction – thereby exercising and measuring their range of motion.

"The use of technology transports the patient to another world where they can ride a motorcycle, ski or play football," says Director of Rehab Ilana Dallas. "The patient is having fun while doing therapy, which allows for greater participation and better results."

The VRP has been incorporated into an "Enhanced Rehab" calendar with digital activities geared for the short stay patients, joining cognitive therapy, spiritual therapy, horticulture therapy and massage therapy, as well as all the traditional therapies.

The program is being deployed at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Jewish Home Assisted Living and by the Jewish Home at Home's Gallen Adult Medical Day Program.

High school-age volunteers interested in computing, gaming or a career in therapy are also being trained to operate the system to maximize its availability during weekends and off hours. To volunteer, contact Stacey Orden at sorden@jewishhomefamily.org or 201-518-1175.

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