John Oleson practices his mobility and strength building through a therapeutic game on Jintronix, Aug. 2. (Sophie Bonomi/Kitsap News Group)

Video games are helping improve quality of rehabilitation

Martha & Mary now using Jintronix, an innovative therapy program

POULSBO — Inside Martha & Mary’s Garden Center rehabilitation unit Aug. 2, John Oleson was working with his physical therapist, Diego Ramirez, on sitting and standing exercises.

Recovering from major surgery on his right foot, Oleson leaned left, then right, then reached outside of his base of movement to score points in a simulated soccer game. He scored 91 percent, his highest score yet. He practiced kicking with his right foot and got 80 percent.

“This program is really positive,” Oleson said. “There are a lot of different exercises and diversity to it. It’s really helping me with balance and movement.”

He added, “This is making me motivated to get back to the gym.”

Oleson was using Jintronix, an FDA-approved program that uses video game technology, to help him build his strength and balance.

Jintronix combines motion sensors with video games to transform therapy into a fun and interactive experience. According to Martha & Mary, the non-profit agency’s post-acute rehab center is the first in Kitsap County to use Jintronix.

Jintronix employs dozens of games to help patients improve their balance, strength, range of motion, sitting and standing, and endurance.

“The Jintronix program is unique, cutting edge and just plain cool,” said Jennifer Bailey, Martha & Mary communications manager.

With Jintronix, therapists can design fun and clinically effective therapy programs that are personalized for the needs of each patient.

“When patients are having fun, they push further to get better,” Ramirez said. “This program takes their mind off of rehab and encourages them … These activities make the patient more willing to participate in therapy.”

The exercises vary in degrees of difficulty and range in time from one to 10 minutes, Ramirez said. Roughly four games are played in one physical therapy session.

“Therapy is hard work,” said Kami DeHeer, director of rehab at Martha & Mary. “Since implementing Jintronix, I’m finding our patients actually look forward to coming to their sessions and are really engaged in their own therapy.”

Recent clinical studies show that video games not only boost patients’ enjoyment of therapy but also the intensity of rehab and clinical outcomes. Research published on Jintronix shows significant improvement in physical activity performance, patient engagement and post-recovery quality of life.

“We’re taking clinical requirements and turning them into gaming elements,” Jintronix founder and CEO Mark Evin said in a YouTube video dated July 13, 2012. “What we’re doing is creating a meaningful interaction between the patient and the clinician.”

By integrating Microsoft Kinect Motion sensor capabilities with its own algorithms, Jintronix provides therapists with real-time outcome data and therapeutic assessments. The program is said by users to be “redefining the delivery of physical rehabilitation services.”

Easy-to-understand progress reports produced by the platform make a powerful impact on patients, by engaging them in their own therapy and keeping them motivated on the long road to recovery. “They have a visual goal to move toward,” Ramirez said.

Patients need measurable outcomes, said Paul Riccios, vice president of business development at Vertis Therapy. With Jintronix, “We get to provide those objective, measurable outcomes and keep the patient engaged in a way that doesn’t reduce our therapist’s efficiency,” he said in a video on the Jintronix website.

Martha & Mary CEO Lynette Ladenburg said her care-services agency will incorporate more technology-based resources for staff, patients and their families starting “now and forever.”

“This is an ongoing process to help people stay in their homes longer. It’s all about the patient’s quality of care, their family and the staff.”

In her previous post at Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Center, she helped establish a technology showcase room to help patients and families find affordable and easy-to-obtain technology to bolster care.

“There’s a real focus in technology in senior care,” she said. Among the innovations: stylish thumb-drive bracelets that contain medical information for older clients.

Ladenburg said her team continues to think outside of the box in how it provides care for patients. “You have to be innovative in this field,” she said.

— Sophie Bonomi is a reporter with the Kitsap News Group. Contact her at sbonomi@soundpublishing.com.

John Oleson works on sitting and standing exercises with his physical therapist, Diego Ramirez, Aug. 2. (Sophie Bonomi/Kitsap News Group)

John Oleson practices his mobility and strength building through a therapeutic game on Jintronix, Aug. 2. (Sophie Bonomi/Kitsap News Group)

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