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Technology Making A Difference In Rehabilitation Care
By Casey Rodak, OTR/L

AutoAmbulatorThe success of any physical rehabilitation program depends on the quality of care patients receive. The highest quality of care is achieved through expertly trained doctors, therapists and nurses. In a world of increasing technology, healthcare professionals are integrating advances in technology and equipment into individualized treatment programs to return people back to work, play and life. Meshing such advances with evidence-based treatment, physical, occupational, and speech therapists are able to provide cutting-edge rehabilitation care.

Technological advances in physical rehabilitation allow therapists to address their patients' goals with efficiency and intensity, often accelerating progress. Patients who once believed their function hit a plateau, are improving once again. New technology offers hope and inspires hard work, two ingredients necessary for a successful rehabilitation course.

Suffering from an accident or stoke is hard enough, but facing the realities of reduced mobility and a change in lifestyle can be even harder. Luckily, rehabilitation technology can help. Machines like the AutoAmbulatorTM, created and developed by HealthSouth, help get people back on their feet again by aiding patients to safely relearn natural walking patterns. Another technology, Bioness, uses coordinated electrical stimulation to improve walking ability and upper extremity function. These systems not only focus on strength and range of motion but also motor learning and reintegration into functional use.

Mainstream game systems such as Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit have also found their way into the rehabilitation environment. Therapists take advantage of the virtual reality provided by such technology in order to add an element of "fun" to traditional therapy. Using robotics technology, Reo Therapy, also uses video screen feedback and practice schedules to improve strength, range of motion, endurance, and coordination. And yet another system, Visi-Pitch, is used to improve vocal quality and volume. Such approaches to rehabilitation make it enjoyable and provide an incentive to perform more sets and repetitions.

For those who need rehabilitation, it is important to seek care from a facility that utilizes the most innovative and advanced technology available.To find out how rehabilitation technology can help you, call HealthSouth at 1-877-937-7342 or visit www.DemandHealthSouth.com. Casey Rodak is Occupational Therapy Manager, HealthSouth Harmarville Rehabilitation Hospital.

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