E5/6 Highlight: Virtual Reality and Computer Therapy with Rob Ferguson

In this two part interview, I talked with Rob Ferguson, MHS, OTR/L, an occupational therapist in the University of Michigan Health System whose practice involves the use of virtual contexts, virtual reality, gaming, and other computer technologies to help clients reach their occupational goals. If you’re wondering what this looks like in practice, you can catch a glimpse of Rob’s work in this video.

Rob and I also uncorked aspects of evidence-based practice, and how to read research findings through the lens of our clinical reasoning and judgement. I mentioned an article I recently read about therapeutic gaming for people with Parkinson’s disease. In this RCT, the researchers studied the effects of an exergame on UE function. The tablet-based game required participants to swipe the screen repeatedly. When they analyzed the data, here is what they found:

Playing the exergame only improved their ability to swipe faster while playing that exergame…

Herein lies the beauty of task-based practice: repetitive task practice serves to improve performance for specific tasks or movements. When gaming technologies are used without a purposeful, occupational goal, they are simply games, and serve no other [billable] purpose. One of the major points I took away from this talk is the use of therapeutic technology as a TOOL to facilitate the achievement of client-centered goals:

Therapeutic Technology – Skilled Therapist = Technology 

During the episode, Rob highlights a collaboration with Erin Muston-Firsch, MS, OTR/L at Craig Hospital, whose contact information is available on the Craig Hospital website. If you have any questions about integrating therapeutic technology and gaming into your practice, Rob invites you to reach out to him via Twitter: @robferguson_OT or Email:  rferg@med.umich.edu

Listen to the episode

Featured BEER:

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Thanks for listening. Cheers!

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