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​Craig Uses Virtual Reality with Patients

December 27, 2016

“As soon as those goggles go over the face and you get it lined up, they’re in another world.” —Erin Muston-Firsch, MS, OTRL, Assistive Technology Specialist.

A grant- and donor-funded program for adaptive gaming, Craig’s Therapeutic Gaming Program, is making the virtual world a reality for Craig patients. This innovative program leverages the expertise and enthusiasm of Craig’s Assistive Technology, Therapeutic Recreation, and Rehabilitation Engineering departments, which also receive funding from generous donors.

“Right away you’re surrounded by the visual of whatever game you are in. The audio even comes in surround sound. Even the controllers in your hand vibrate and give you feedback,” Erin said.

This summer Craig introduced patients to a virtual reality experience as part of their therapy.

Craig patient Jeramiah “Jer” Gouin participated in virtual reality during his inpatient time at Craig in September. Jeramiah sustained a C5-6 level spinal cord injury after being trampled by a bull this summer. He took a scuba diving trip underwater as part of his VR experience.

“It gives you a lot of opportunity to feel, and look, and see, what it would be like if you did go scuba diving,” he said.

The project’s goal is to use this popular mode of recreation and leisure to address social, physical, and occupational therapy rehabilitation goals.

“Every machine, every piece of technology is just another tool that a therapist can pull out of his or her tool belt and use to help our patients meet their goals,” Erin said. “I think that’s especially important for our patients. They already tend to feel so limited in their world, and as soon as those goggles go on it kind of opens that world back up for them.”

The Therapeutic Gaming program at Craig Hospital's goal is to use this popular mode of recreation and leisure to address social, physical and occupational therapy rehabilitati...