Alternative and Complementary Rehabilitation Therapies

Experts have been searching for alternative ways to keep patients with limb loss engaged and excited about their recovery. From walking in swimming pools to virtual reality environments, patients have been working toward recovery in ways that take them outside therapists' clinics. 

The premise for using alternative types of therapy in conjunction with traditional, proven therapeutic methods is simple: Even if an individual has access to the best therapies in the world, they will not be effective unless the patient has the motivation to improve and succeed. 

Alternative therapies might motivate patients in ways that traditional therapies can't. For instance, patients may be able to gain confidence by walking in a pool after struggling to do so on land or may get more practice using their myoelectric arms if they are training to use them via a video game.

Aquatic Therapy

One way to reduce the pressure of learning to walk with a new device is to literally take the pressure off through aquatic therapy. If a patient is having a hard time due to contractures or if pain or overall weakness is an issue, and they are not tolerating land therapy really well, aquatic therapy can really help. It allows them to be successful in the pool and gain their confidence, so they can then increase their participation with land-based interventions. 

Virtual Reality Gait Training

Patients are outfitted with motion sensor markers and instructed them to walk on a treadmill in front of a large screen. The markers captured the patients' movement on the treadmill that controlled an avatar on the screen. The treadmill is synchronized with the display and simulates walking up stairs or hills or going around curves. Patients are awarded points as they complete certain tasks in the simulator. While on the treadmill, the patients see their gait and are challenged to improve it. The hypothesis of the study was that patients who underwent virtual reality training would have better results than those who had conventional gait training. 

Game Training for Upper-limb Prostheses Users

Mastering the use of an upper-limb myoelectric prosthesis is so challenging that many patients give up before they get to the point where they can use their devices to their full potential. Design Interactive hopes that its game system ADAPT-MP will keep patients engaged long enough to make full use of their devices. The myoelectric prosthesis, which is operated by using the muscles of the residual limb, requires months of intensive training to master. The hope is that the training games will keep patients engaged long enough to make good use of their devices.

Please contact our knowledgeable staff at Teter Orthotics & Prosthetics for any questions on rehabilitation and recovery. We’ve been providing expert orthotic and prosthetic services in Michigan since 1955 and have grown to more than 20 locations, including Traverse City, Cadillac, Grand Rapids, Petoskey and visit our new location in St. Joseph opening soon! 

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