REPOSTED from The Times Tribune BY JON O’CONNELL
BUTCH COMEGYS / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Virginia Scheirer of Marshalls Creek, a patient at Allied Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scranton, uses a Tyromotion Pablo device that is connected with a laptop computer as she’s helped by occupational therapists Alicia Coolbaugh, left, and Amanda Borick on Wednesday.
BUTCH COMEGYS / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Virginia Scheirer of Marshalls Creek, a patient at Allied Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scranton, uses a Tyromotion Pablo device.
Virginia Scheirer of Marshalls Creek, a patient at Allied Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scranton, uses a Tyromotion Pablo device Wednesday. Occupational therapists Alicia Coolbaugh, left, and Amanda Borick assist. BUTCH COMEGYS STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
At first glance, it looks like something from a video game store, not an advanced therapy device.
At its core, the Tyromotion Pablo system measures movement and force and gives stroke and injury patients a simple incentive to reach their goals. On the surface, it looks like a happier, more colorful Space Invaders or Duck Hunt.
Therapists at Allied Services just started using the high-tech tool that combines typical therapy exercises with hard data at Allied’s Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scranton.
Seven occupational therapists huddled around Cliff Ricci and a glowing laptop screen last week in a conference room for their first training.
Austria-based Tyromotion released this latest version of the system in July, and Allied is the first in the region to add it to its therapy repertoire, Ricci said.
The sales director and trainer strapped devices to therapist Traci Giberson’s arm and hand and launched a game that involved apple trees and a basket.
The system includes a hand grip for rehabilitating grip and arm movement. It has a ball for rotational movement, and a multi-board with hand grips and elbow rests balanced over a sphere. Everything communicates wirelessly to a computer.
A base system costs about $10,000 and includes the laptop. The setup is scalable, so Allied or any other user can add more pieces to treat more patients at once.
“We generally have 80 to 90 patients in the case load at a time,” said Leah Anderson, occupational therapy director at the skilled nursing center. “Of them, I think a large population would be able to benefit from this.”
The brains are in the small rectangular devices that click to the other pieces or can be strapped on their own to limbs, the torso or the head. The sensors send data back to the computer.
The device is geared more toward the fine motor skill techniques used by occupational therapists, Ricci said, but physical therapists may also find it useful for retraining gross motor skills.
Once Giberson was strapped in, Ricci clicked a few buttons and digital apples began falling from the trees.
Giberson moved her arm up and down to make a basket track back and forth catching the slow-falling apples.
Ricci told her to let one hit the ground.
“But I don’t want to miss,” she said excitedly.
The others chuckled, but Ricci had made his point — the simple games and goals are engaging.
In one game, a chicken glided around the screen to eat worms popping out of the ground. In another, an elevator carted cartoon people from floor to floor.
There are linear games for simple up-and-down or back-and-forth exercises, and three-dimensional games for rotational or multi-directional ones.
Some work a patient’s cognitive skills, such as maneuvering a claw to drop cartoon recyclables in the appropriate recycling bin. Others work reaction time, such as by shooting a target or driving a car around potholes.
Patients achieve the repetitive motion they would have to slough through anyway, while the computer tracks everything as it happens.
The data helps the therapist decide what is working and what needs tweaking, and it gives patients accurate feedback on their progress, which can be invaluable to keep them motivated.
As the therapists played with the devices and asked questions, they began suggesting their own exercises, which is how it was designed to work, Ricci said.
“Once they grasp that concept of measuring movement and force, the rest becomes easy — then the imagination starts kicking in,” he said.
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