After a stroke, patients may lose sensation in an arm or experience weakness and reduced movement that limits their ability to perform basic daily activities. Traditional rehabilitation therapy is very intensive, time-consuming, and can be both expensive and inconvenient, especially for rural patients traveling long distances to get to in-person therapy appointments.
That’s why a team of researchers, including one at the University of Missouri, used a motion-sensor video game, Recovery Rapids, to help patients recovering from stroke improve their motor skills and affected arm movements at home while periodically checking in with a therapist via telehealth.
The researchers found that play-based therapy resulted in improved results similar to a popular form of in-person therapy known as constraint-induced therapy, while requiring only one-fifth of the therapist’s hours. This approach saves time and money while increasing convenience and safety as telehealth has grown in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As an occupational therapist, I have seen patients in rural areas drive over an hour to get to an in-person clinic three to four days a week, where rehabilitation is very intensive, taking three to four hours a week. session, and the therapist has to be there all the time,” said Rachel Proffitt, assistant professor at the MU School of Health Professions. the therapist while improving convenience and overall health outcomes, so it’s a win-win. By saving therapists time, we can now serve more patients and have a broader impact on our communities.”
Traditional home rehabilitation exercises tend to be very repetitive and monotonous, and patients rarely adhere to them. The Recovery Rapids game helps patients prepare for rehabilitation by overcoming various challenges in a fun and interactive environment, and researchers have found that patients adhere well to the prescribed exercises.
“The patient is virtually placed in a kayak and, as he descends the river, he performs arm movements simulating paddling, rowing, scooping up trash, rocking from side to side. ‘other to steer and reach overhead to clear cobwebs and bats, so it makes exercises fun,’ said Rachel Proffitt, assistant professor at the MU School of Health Professions. “As they progress, the challenges become more difficult and we check in with participants via telehealth to adjust goals, provide feedback and discuss what daily activities they want to resume as they go. improve.”
According to the CDC, nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke each year, and two-thirds of stroke survivors report not being able to use their affected limbs to perform normal daily activities, including making a cup of coffee, cook a meal or play with their grandchildren.
“I’m passionate about helping patients get back to all the activities they love to do in their daily lives,” Proffitt said. “Anything we can do as therapists to help creatively while saving time and money is the end goal.”