Virtual reality device aids stroke recovery

Posted 4 weeks ago by Nicole Pope

Sam Hensman using ALTO with Daish Malani, the Technical Director and (other) Co-founder of Add-Life Technologies [Source: Add-Life Technologies]
Sam Hensman using ALTO with Daish Malani, the Technical Director and (other) Co-founder of Add-Life Technologies [Source: Add-Life Technologies]

A virtual reality device is helping rehabilitate people who have had a stroke with modern technology that is also able to aid recovery of a number of other health conditions.

ALTO, developed by Add-Life Technologies takes traditional rehabilitation exercises and makes them fun and engaging by ‘gamifying’ the activities.  

Managing Director and Co-founder of Add-Life Tech, Dr Tony Aitchison says people whose prognosis had previously plateaued are now improving significantly in as little as 20 minutes a day.

“We have found that people enjoy our sporting, music, puzzles, and more experiences to such a great extent that they end up achieving more than what they usually can achieve,” he says.

“We have seen people regain their mobility to the point that they are now walking away from their wheelchair and increasing their independence. This helps on a grand scale with their mental health as well as when they return to work, going out, seeing friends and family.”

Allied health professionals are also able to track patient progress through a cloud-based data storage system which allows a digital process of the individual’s development to be collected over long periods of time.

“Collectively, this data will be used to enhance rehabilitation and to discover more effective methods for faster recovery,” Dr Aitchison says.

For Pam Hensman of Heathfield, South Australia, a chat to a friend led to the device being incorporated into her son’s rehabilitation, alongside acupuncture and physiotherapy.

23 year old Sam experienced multiple haemorrhages in his early 20s and despite being informed he was unlikely to recover, he is now able to stand up and walk through Add-Life’s virtual reality tool.

Ms Hensman says the alternative therapy has been integral in getting Sam physically moving again.

“When he first started he struggled a lot but he did actually improve quite quickly.”

Sam has received therapy through the virtual reality device once a week for the last 12 months, making momentous improvements including standing up from his wheelchair and walking! 

Ms Hensman says she would “definitely” recommend Add-Life Tech and their virtual reality tool to other people who are recovering from stroke.

“The virtual reality tool triggers new pathways, which is key to a recovery when you’ve had a traumatic brain injury,” she explains.

“They’re really good people to work with … both are compassionate, understanding and right across the technology. They are always keen to assist Sam in trying new things and extending him a lot further.”

Dr Aitchison says when Sam first came to Add-Life Tech he did not show any signs of gross body movement, but with time the company was able to help him develop his strength and stamina to regain his upper body strength.

“He in particular loves our handy golf experience where he is playing golf using his hands.”

“He also enjoys our Venice experience, where he is boating down a canal and it encourages him to reach up and stretch his muscles.”

Over the last 12 months, Sam has regained his upper body movement, finger movement, developed his core muscles and built his stamina.

“His physical strength and movement capability has increased on a tremendous scale that was previously thought impossible and we look forward to seeing Sam completely getting rid of his wheelchair altogether,” Dr Aitchison says.

But it’s not just stroke patients who can benefit from ALTO, Add-Life Tech also specialises in supporting spinal cord injuries, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.

“The technology has been tested with great success as it helps people of any age with their mobility and cognitive rehabilitation with micro-challenges that become slightly more difficult as they improve,” Dr Aitchison says.

The virtual reality device also has the ability to benefit older Australians within the aged care sector, through the development of upper body strength.

“Regaining their upper body strength has the ability to translate the strength to ones lower body, especially the core of the body. This can be very important in regaining bladder control and sphincter control.”

ALTO  can be used with any other traditional rehabilitation devices and medication, as it is a non-invasive method of recovery, Dr Aitchison says would be best coupled with lower body devices, such as an exercise bike, that focuses on their leg movements and strength.

Businesses interested in ALTO can loan the device for a week before deciding to rent or purchase for their company.

Add-Life is also fielding expressions of interest for a smaller portable device for in-home use, a move Ms Hensman supports.

“It’s important as it will combine a number of therapies and people can do the therapy on a more frequent basis at home,” she says.

For more information on ALTO click here.

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