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  • Game On: Recent Articles Focus on VR and Gamification in Physical Therapy

    When it comes to rehabilitation, many physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) don't play around.

    But maybe they should.

    The "gamification" of physical therapy may not be anything new, but it's been receiving attention from the media lately. Here's a quick roundup of some of the highlights published recently.

    The New Yorker looks at "a radical new approach to treating stroke patients"
    This feature-length article in the November 23 issue of the magazine looks at "Bandit Shark Showdown," a rehabilitative video game designed by a team of neuroscientists and game developers in the Brain, Learning, Animation, Movement (BLAM!) lab at Johns Hopkins University. Writer Karen Russell explores the game's development and BLAM! leader John Krakauer's thoughts on the relationship between the brain and the motor system.

    A new "virtual physical therapy" system gets FDA approval
    Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry Online looks at Vera, not exactly a game itself but a system that incorporates the Microsoft Kinect platform often used for gaming. Reflxion Health's "Vera" system includes 2-way video connection between patient and PT, as well as an avatar that monitors and evaluates patients' home exercises to facilitate rehabilitation from joint replacement.

    Inc. magazine declares virtual reality "will change physical therapy forever"
    "Recently, with the expansion of medical-related technology, a new type of physical therapy has arisen," Inc. announces in this article. The piece includes links to clinics providing physical therapy via virtual reality as well as to a 2002 article on virtual reality and stroke rehabilitation from APTA's journal Physical Therapy (proving that what's news to Inc. may not necessarily be news to PTs).

    Long-Term Living focuses on gamification
    This brief article explores the trend toward "turning physical therapy into a game," and focuses on the Medical Interactive Recovery Assistant (MIRA) technology developed by TED fellow Cosmin Mihaiu.

    New twists on virtual reality and gaming applications in physical therapy are developing constantly, but the basic concept is a familiar one to readers of PT in Motion, APTA's member magazine. The magazine covered virtual reality in 2012 and 2011, and published a feature article on gamification in physical therapy in 2014.

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