[WEB SITE] Local rehabilitation center uses virtual reality to help patients

SPOKANE, Wash. — Virtual reality technology makes it possible to visit a new world, or test drive a new ride from the comfort of your home. But it offers more than just a good time.

Saint Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute is using our region’s first ever virtual reality driving simulator to provide patients with rehab exercises.

“There’s a lot of anxiety of even though they’ve been told by a therapist that they can drive, or that they might be ok to drive, they still have that question of ‘am I ready’ or ‘is this safe?'” St. Luke’s Occupational Therapist Devin Hatch said. “This allows them to get more comfortable.”

Hatch said their virtual reality simulator helps patients who have suffered a stroke, spinal cord or brain injury re-learn safe driving skills before trying it out in reality.

“There was no real good bridge between actual driving and in-clinic stuff,” Hatch said. “So this has given us the bridge to cover the gap of what we do in the clinic and actual on the road driving.”

The VR driving simulator allows Hatch to assess his patient’s brain injury with steering and braking, and how they manage typical distractions they would experience on the road. Scenarios range from city driving to country roads.

“It’s nice to see what people are coming up with and how we can apply that to a health care setting to let people practice things without putting anyone at danger,” Hatch said.

© 2018 KREM-TV

via Local rehabilitation center uses virtual reality to help patients | KREM.com

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