How video games are reinventing traditional physiotherapy

Mar 4 2022, 8:10 pm

Gamifying physio through VR makes getting better fun, this Canadian company’s co-founder says.

As it is, physio is “pretty dull and boring to do,” in the opinion of Tenzr co-founder Gautam Sadarangani. That’s why they’re turning the experience into a game with their software.

“Gamifying” the exercises allows people to compete with their peers to reach the top of a metre board while doing their physio exercises for their hands, wrists, and elbows. This encourages them to do it more often and enjoy it more, Sadarangani says. 

gamifying physiotherapy ceo gautam

Submitted by Tenzr Health Media

They took inspiration from games like Snake and Mario Kart while building the technology.

This way, physiotherapists can maximize their time by only helping people who really need it, and people who benefit from remote care can make the most of it.

As people play, they turn their sore limbs into “a controller.”

“You’ve got to move your limb in a clinically accurate movement pattern to progress in the game,” says Sadarangani.

The system consists of two components: a wearable sensor and an iPad. 

In Toronto and Vancouver, patients can rent the kit and get the iPad bundled in with it for about $50.

“We want it to be as seamless as possible, and pretty affordable,” he says.

Tenzr physio gamifying kit

Submitted by Tenzr Health Media

The physiotherapist and the patient decide how long they’ll need it for, but three or four months is the average.

It is possible to “beat” the game, but only by finishing your physio progression.

“One of the things that makes it really rewarding for the patient is you’re not playing the same game over and over again,” he says.

In the long term, Tenzr plans to keep adding more fun and engaging rehab games — potentially including virtual and augmented reality.

“The advantages of it, not just in physical therapy but in general to make games more engaging and immersive, it lends itself very well to this application,” he says.

“There are some really good rehabilitation reasons for wanting to include a more immersive experience, including suggestions it helps with distracting from the pain and [brain function].”

Moving forward, the main challenges would be ensuring it’s easy to use and that people are comfortable with the headsets.

Technology has come a long way already, but will continue to evolve rapidly in upcoming years.

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