PlayStation-like device aids stroke sufferers

TECHNOLOGY similar to PlayStation is being used for the first time in a community care hospital to help stroke sufferers with their recovery.

Staff at St Patrick’s Hospital in Cashel, Co Tipperary, say that in the limited time Armeo has been in operation they’ve noticed significant improvements in arm movements of people who have suffered from debilitating strokes.

The machine, which was made in Switzerland, was purchased for €40,000 by the voluntary organisation, Coisceim Eile (Another Step).

Nigerian-born senior physiotherapist, TG Giwa, said patients find the computer-generated games more enjoyable than simple physical exercise and it also improves their brain function.

He said half a dozen patients are using it on a regular basis and they don’t get bored because there are hundreds of different programmes from games to virtual reality shopping and they can be played at different speeds to suit different patients’ progress.

Mary McCormack from Clonmel, who is recovering from her second stroke, said she found the games very interesting.

“You have to use your brain as well as your arm. I’m using my arm a lot more now since they put the machine in here. It’s very enjoyable,” she said.

The hospital’s director of nursing, Mary Prendergast, said most of the stroke victims being treated at St Patrick’s were over 65 years.

“Older people pick up technology much quicker than people think. We’re really excited about this project,” Ms Prendergast said.

Armeo is a weight compensation device linked with video that enables patients to maximise their movement capability while ensuring they are both physically and mentally challenged.

Joan Ryan, who founded Coisceim Eile, said in total the charity had raised in the region of €400,000 for worthy causes.

They previously purchased a robotic walking trainer, called Lokomat, which is in use at the First Step Rehabilitation Clinic in Patrickswell.

“It is very important that people with disabilities recover as much as possible. I want to thank everybody who has helped us raise money for both of the machines.”


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