There are numerous challenges that people with disabilities face on a daily basis. Even men and women, young and elderly, who are discharged from the hospital due to any number of injuries, medical emergencies, or other elements may face a specific recovery time at home. During that time, in-home care may be required and a physical therapist might be absolutely necessary.
For potentially hundreds of thousands of these individuals all across the country, access to physical therapy can be limited. Now, a new pilot program has been developed that could offer some of these higher functioning individuals the chance to work with a physical therapist, but virtually.
A ‘Virtual Physical Therapist’ is not referring to robots, but 3-D computer generated systems. A patient would have the opportunity to work with a physical therapist remotely. In other words, the physical therapist would not be required to actually visit the patient at their home.
This has the potential to open up tremendous opportunities for those who may have otherwise been limited in their access to professional medical services, including therapies. This new program is known as VERA™ and is provided by Reflexion Health.
According to Christine Kern, contributing writer for Health IT Outcomes, in the blog, Virtual Physical Therapy Helps Revolutionize Home Health Care:
“According to Reflexion Health, “VERA™ is a digital medicine platform that includes a suite of prescription rehabilitation exercises, an animated avatar coach, a 3D imaging system for measuring movement and form, functional assessments, an intuitive dashboard for off-line clinical review, automatic report generation, and telemedicine capability. In early use, VERA™ increases patient engagement, improves adherence to prescribed exercises, delights patients, all while increasing the reach of physical therapists into the home while saving steps, time, and money.”
The system relies on Kinect motion tracking systems that essentially records a person’s movements and translates them into virtual reality. It does this do this with wires or sensors that get attached to a person’s body, but through an algorithm and analysis program that translates what is viewed by the camera into virtual motion the physical therapist can review.
This can be incredibly beneficial for those men and women who may have difficulty dealing with certain exercises or range of motion activities. The physical therapist will be able to offer instruction, correction, and advice to help them stay on track and even keep motivated.
Technology continues to revolutionize the in-home care industry and virtual physical therapy is one more step in the progression of improved access and care for those in need.