Mike Forzano, Vice President - Therapy Services for Centers Health Care
With technology changing the face incredibly fast in almost every industry in America, as well as globally, post-acute health care and rehabilitation is certainly not left on the sidelines. Traditionally, rehabilitation departments in hospitals, nursing homes and stand-alone have the many basic equipment such as stairs, treadmills, balancing bars, rubber balls used for balancing and reflex and small gadgets, such as pedals used for leg strength and hand devices to strengthen wrists such as a wrist curl, plus the grip and release. Now this is where 21st-century technology comes in. One must remember that the overall goal in rehabilitation is for the patient to get better by building strength and balance so they can go home quicker. Where we are today, ready to enter the 2020’s, we have to go back almost fifteen years to when the seed was planted for major rehabilitation technology development and its transformation in out physiotherapy world. Many of these technology advancements became an explosive awakening that separated the men from the boys with rehabilitation technology progression in the skilled nursing business.
"The advancements in rehabilitation technology in physical, occupational and speech therapy over the decade-plus, has grown exponentially"
In 2006 Nintendo released the Nintendo Wii. Using a simple handheld device to track movements in three dimensions, users were able to control an avatar and play simple games such as bowling and baseball and thus the ability to use this device to engage patients while exercising was quickly adapted into the rehabilitation setting. The advancements in rehabilitation technology in physical, occupational and speech therapy over the decade-plus, has grown exponentially from virtual reality-based gaming systems, full-body motion capture cameras and numerous other rehabilitation technologies to improve therapist’s ability to evaluate, diagnosis and design engaging treatment programs. The ability to detect the small changes in standing balance, seated balance and gait deviations has allowed therapists to identify resident’s with higher risk for fall risk with greater accuracy, as well as measure success more objectively.