The days of traditional face to face interaction between patients and health care professionals is swiftly being replaced by new technologies. Researchers at the University of Michigan are leading this charge with their experimental system that allows patients with Cerebral Palsy to use the internet to connect with physical therapists in ways not previously possible.
While physical and occupation therapy bring relief, many adults with cerebral palsy like Gable find juggling busy work and family schedules leaves little time to attend regular therapy sessions outside the home. Adding to that, some insurance companies do not cover physical and occupational therapy for adults with cerebral palsy.
But what if patients could complete regular therapy exercises from the comfort of their home? Using an Internet connection and an at-home computer interface, that’s exactly what a new program developed by experts at the University of Michigan Health System and the U-M Division of Kinesiology aims to do: Make movement-based training more convenient and assessable to adults with cerebral palsy.
This joint research and movement therapy project – called the Upper Limb Training and Assessment Program, or ULTrA – is specially designed to aid adults with cerebral palsy who have upper limb and hand impairment.
“Physical and occupational therapy are the most important treatments for cerebral palsy,” says Edward Hurvitz, M.D., chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the U-M Health System. “The ULTrA program works with the idea of bringing therapy into the home to allow adults to do their therapy at a time that’s convenient for them.”
Health Minute ImageUsing the Internet and streaming video, the ULTrA program allows adult patients to connect to “virtual trainers” and real-life experts at the U-M motor control lab via their home computer to complete movement-based therapy programs. The project also collects data to determine how well the in-home therapy is working.