Portsmouth rehabilitation facility using virtual reality to help patients

Posted at 11:28 PM, Apr 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-06 23:31:48-04

Portsmouth - The speech language pathologists at Autumn Care are taking action to help their patients fight dysphagia with virtual reality therapy.

The facility  uses the Synchrony Dysphagia Solution from Accelerated Care Plus, to help their patients with the swallowing disorder. It gives patients and their therapists a chance to look inside, at the muscles used to swallow.

"There is an electrode that you place close to the muscles you want to look at and the biofeedback on the screen shows us what they are doing," explained Erin Breckenridge, a speech language pathologist at Autumn Care.

By being able to see the muscles, patients and their therapists are able to see which strengthening exercises are being done correctly and which ones aren't - making the recovery faster.

"If the patient is actually able to see on the screen that that exercise is being done the way that it is being asked of them its going to be quicker," explained Berckenridge.

Those skills are then used in a video game, but instead of using a controller, patients have to swallow in order to earn points.

"They can play a game where a kangaroo is jumping across the screen trying to get coins. That exercise breaks up the monotony of just sitting there and doing the same exercises."

While the goal in the game is to earn points, the real prize for patients is being able to eat their favorite foods again.

"I had a patient who when she first came to me, couldn't eat a thing," explained Breckenridge. "She had a peg tube, we worked really hard and all she wanted was to eat her bacon egg and cheese breakfast sandwich again and she was able to do that."

Autumn Care was one of the first local facilities to use the Synchrony Dysphagia Solution for therapy, they have had it for less than a year and are seeing great results with it.