Rehabilitation therapy can be tough, tiring and tedious, yet Bill Presiznuik looks forward to it every day.
“There’s nothing like it,” the 65-year-old recovering
stroke patient says.
The source of Presiznuik’s enthusiasm is an inter-
active tabletop, locally developed technology used
for daily therapy at Edmonton’s Glenrose Rehabili-
Developed jointly by Alberta Health Services and
the University of Alberta, the high-tech machine
challenges rehabilitation patients with game-like
therapeutic activities, such as popping virtual
balloons, finger-painting and arranging family
Because they’re having fun, patients spend more
time with the activities, which can lead to faster,
“It really gets your fingers and arms moving,”
Presiznuik says. “My left arm was totally paralyzed. I
work a half-hour or hour a day on the table and I can
see a change every day.”
The tabletop’s touch-sensitive screen tracks the
slightest hand movement and reaction, allowing
caregivers to precisely measure a patient’s progress.
The equipment marries a computer, digital projec-
tor, infrared sensing camera and dedicated software.
It was designed to help stroke, injury and surgical
patients who need upper limb motor therapy to regain
strength, coordination and reactive skills.
Traditional rehab activities such as stacking items,
reaching for cones and wiping a table with a cloth
may build strength and coordination, “but they can
be quite boring and not very engaging,” says occupational therapist Quentin Ranson.
Glenrose researchers, technologists and occupational therapists pooled their talents with U of A computing science staff and students to build the equipment
over the past year. The tabletop technology cost $6,000
and was developed by AHS, the U of A and the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation.
“Technology is becoming much more available
and affordable. We can see it entering into all areas
of rehab,” says Darrell Goertzen, Glenrose’s service
leader for Research and Technology Development.
“Just wait and see what we’ll be doing in the coming
years. You’ll be amazed.”