SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – There’s nothing enjoyable about recovering from a significant injury. It’s often fraught with pain and frustration, and as we age, these feelings can be compounded by a longer, more winding road to recovery. At Valle Verde retirement community in Santa Barbara, therapists are challenging this stereotype with the help of a new virtual rehabilitation system that has seniors feeling more like they’re playing video games than working through a therapy session.
The system, called OmniVR, follows the body mechanics of older adults and projects their movements onto a large screen in the form of a digital character. Depending on the individual’s needs, therapists can program personalized exercises that simulate daily activities such as walking, avoiding obstacles, and reaching for objects.
“What I really love about this equipment is the visual feedback,” said Kawleen Saluja, area director for Consonus Rehab and Valle Verde’s area director of therapy. “Often residents think they’re playing video games, but they’re actually doing high-level balance exercises without realizing it. This is such a fun and tech-savvy way of doing therapy.”
The system, which can be used for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, collects data during each session and provides immediate feedback. Therapists at Valle Verde say this often lights a competitive fire in residents, motivating them to surpass their previous scores or results and, in turn, reach milestones more quickly.
“The OmniVR technology is the fun, new way to make progress with treatments,” said Justin Church, an occupational therapist in the Village, Valle Verde’s health center. “In one relatively small space, treatments can focus on cognition, arm strength, core strength, wheelchair management, standing balance, volleyball skills and much more.”
OmniVR has helped Jane Endacott recover from a knee replacement, a left ankle fracture and fractures of both tibias. With the guidance of her therapist at Valle Verde, she’s used the system’s wheelchair functions and recently began weight-bearing exercises.
“It’s a great addition to my traditional therapy; it feels like you’re playing a game and I’m not usually good at video games, but this is easy, and the therapist is there to instruct and encourage you,” she said. “You don’t even realize you’re doing therapy, because you’re having fun. I’ve done a lot of reaching and moving around in my wheelchair to increase my mobility. It also makes me want to do better next time, because I see my score at the end.”
Valle Verde is a vibrant retirement community in Santa Barbara that offers residential living garden homes and a variety of appealing services and amenities. Assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care options are also available on campus, as well as short-term rehabilitation for seniors.
About Valle Verde
Valle Verde has been providing quality care, services and lifestyle options to older adults in Santa Barbara for 50 years. Valle Verde provides residents with the continuity of a flexible, residential lifestyle, while offering the security of health care. For more information about Valle Verde, call 1-800-491-0629, visit the campus at 900 Calle de los Amigos in Santa Barbara, or visit ValleVerde.org.
Valle Verde is part of the ABHOW family, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation. ABHOW is a nonsectarian corporation, serving seniors through quality retirement housing since 1949. ABHOW seeks to enhance the well-being and security of older adults through the provision of housing, health care and supportive services, and was a pioneer in the development of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). For more information, visit ABHOW.com.