Virtual reality video game ‘tremendously helpful’ in regaining mobility

Insurance never used to pay for virtual rehabilitation therapy visits, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed that. And now, telehealth rehab at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore includes a virtual reality video game.

Dr. Preeti Raghavan, of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said the MindMotion GO gaming platform is “a brand-new rehabilitation technology platform on the U.S. market” that has been tremendously helpful for people with conditions that impair ability to move normally, such as stroke or the coronavirus.

“This is so exciting,” said Raghavan, an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and neurology.

“Even before COVID, there were so many situations when patients could not make it to their therapy appointments even though they really wanted to, and we had no solutions for these patients,” said Raghavan, who also directs the Sheikh Khalifa Stroke Institute. “But now, we can provide them with this platform and monitor their progress as if they were on location.”

The rehabilitation game activities, shown in the above video from Johns Hopkins Medicine, are displayed on a TV or computer monitor, while a specialized camera tracks movements. A doctor or therapist can be part of the process live via telehealth, or can review sessions after they’re recorded.

“The system can access what kind of movement problems the individual has, and it provides 26 different activity or gaming options that can become progressively more difficult as the patient improves,” Raghavan said.

The system might evaluate, for example, how far you can move your arm or how high you can lift your leg.

“But, it’s also about challenging, let’s say, your posture — so, how much can you sway while sitting in the chair, which may be really important for you to prepare to get up and start to walk,” Raghavan said.

MindMotion GO was first used in Europe. Raghavan said Johns Hopkins is the first place to use it in the U.S.

“COVID has pushed this wonderful technology into implementation and our patients are really seeing the benefits,” Raghavan said. “So, this is very exciting.”

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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