Cyber News Now: Charlie Norwood VA uses VR rehabilitation therapy

April 11th, 7:31 AM EDT

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WFXG) - There's a new method for rehabilitation therapy at the Charlie Norwood VA Uptown Division: virtual reality. Thanks to a donation from nonprofit SoldierStrong, the technologies called the REAL system can now be used to help veteran patients in this clinic.

Charles Bungy is one of the local veterans using this form of therapy. He says he has only done this a few times now. As a double amputee, he comes to the VA for rehabilitation therapy.

"It's nothing harder than a pain you can't get rid of." said Bungy.

However, so far, he feels this new method is a big help.

"It’s a distraction. You know, it takes your mind off of, if you have pain. It allows you to think about something else,” explained Bungy.

The REAL system allows veterans like Bungy to receive rehabilitation therapy through virtual reality technology. This system offers a number of games that offer a different way of engaging patients through entertainment and therapy.

"It’s amazing seeing just the new doors that are opening up and seeing patients be engaged in different ways to make new gains that they thought they’d maybe never have again.” said Kelsey Shull, Innovation specialist.

"It can help with like, lowering the stimulation, it can help provide an environment where they are more comfortable doing activities.” said Eric Johnson, physical therapist assistant.

However, Johnson says the games are much more than just a headset and a distraction. 

“Some have a lot of core activity in them, causing them to have to move a certain way with his core. Others, we’re trying to get range of motion with his arms. You kind of combine them, and it improves his stability and balance.”

The Charlie Norwood VA hopes to expand virtual reality to more clinics. Virtual reality technologies are also available in the nursing home units, occupational therapy and spinal cord treatment centers.

“The main point of our innovation program is to continuously bring in the new best technologies and options for our patients in all kinds of treatment settings.” said Shull.

As for Charles, he’s happy to have a new way of doing things.

“If flying a hot air balloon was that easy, I’d do it every day!” said Bungy.

If you're a patient of the Charlie Norwood VA, and you're interested in virtual reality therapy, Shull recommends a talk with your doctor or provider. If is is not available in your clinic, Shull says staff will work on getting it there for you.

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