Virtual reality system helps patients explore castles, sail boats

Developed by BASIC, the Brain and Spinal Injury Centre based in Salford, a virtual reality system called Caren is enhancing the rehabilitation of patients who have had a stroke and have trouble multitasking.

Caren helps patients gain back movement, balance and confidence. While attached to a harness and under the supervision of a physiotherapist, patients walk on a treadmill and interact with a scene displayed on a large screen.

Patients become immersed in the movement and skills required to sail a boat, drive a car, or explore a castle. Sessions with Caren have been described as ‘fun’ and some patients are motivated to really push their limits.

In essence, Caren gives patients the chance to safely explore their physical and mental capacities. But it comes with a sizeable price tag. Caren cost BASIC £500,000 to purchase and install.

While not a replacement for basic physiotherapy, Caren is a useful rehabilitation aid for patients with who struggle with multitasking.

“Caren is able to do multifactorial things. It’s able to do walking, balance, cognition and visual field as well so it enables multi-tasking,” said Sylvia Moss in an BBC story on Caren. “Many stroke patients or Parkinson’s or dementia sufferers do have problems multi-tasking so this system is really good value.”

Have your patients benefited from virtual reality sessions? Let us know in the comments below.