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Quick Recovery for Stroke Victims With New Virtual Reality Treadmill

by Tanya Thomas on August 26, 2008 at 10:00 AM
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 Quick Recovery for Stroke Victims With New Virtual Reality Treadmill

Wendy Powell, a scientist at Portsmouth University, claims to have written a piece of software that would help in the speedier recovery of victims of stroke and other injuries. The novel technology is the - virtual reality treadmill.

This virtual reality treadmill tricks the patients into believing that they are moving slower than they actually are, encouraging them to move faster.

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The researcher says that moving images on a giant screen respond to patients' efforts on an adapted treadmill, and prompt them to move faster and further than they might ordinarily progress.

The device comes with a variety of different settings, including urban and woodland landscapes, through which it can create a virtual world for the patient to "walk" through on the treadmill.
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Initial research has shown patients using it have a decreased perception of pain.

"The virtual system encourages patients to walk more quickly and for longer, almost without them realizing it. It's not just that they're distracted from the pain; by moving faster than they realize, their body actually feels it less. We're effectively fooling the brain and cheating the body," the Independent quoted Powell as saying.

"It's a lot more fun than traditional rehab and it can actually facilitate a much faster recovery. Our test subjects are usually surprised when I tell them they've improved by up to 20 per cent," Powell added.

Clinical trials on patients are taking place in collaboration with McGill University in Canada.

Sixty-one-year-old stroke sufferer Andy Long, who has been using the technology as part of his rehab, hails it as "magic".

"The vast majority of stroke survivors cannot use a normal treadmill because they are not in control. Many can only hold on with one hand, making it almost impossible. Walking is the best possible exercise for their bodies, and this system means it could all become available to them," he said.

Source: ANI
TAN/M
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