Meet Virtual Reality, Your New Physical Therapist
While use of the gaming technology for improving physical ailments is still in the early stages, it shows promise — and it’s fun.
This article is part of our new series on the Future of Health Care, which examines changes in the medical field.
Four years ago, Michael Heinrich was riding his motorcycle on the University of Michigan campus when a rotted tree fell on him and snapped his neck, causing him to permanently lose use of the lower half of his body. He spent weeks in intensive care and then went to inpatient rehabilitation for more than two months,
About halfway through his rehab stint, his occupational therapist, Michael Blackstock, asked whether he was interested in trying virtual reality for his therapy. Mr. Heinrich, now 26 — who is returning for his master’s at the university — was game.
“What I really enjoyed was being an eagle trying to go through rings,” he said, describing a virtual reality experience. “From an emotional standpoint, coming off an injury where I lost the majority of the use of my body, V.R. pushed the boundaries of what I thought was possible.”