Just as in every other medically based field, Occupational Therapy is constantly changing as new technology is invented and the literature continues to grow. As practitioners in our field, we must do our best to keep up with the most up to date and current literature available to us. I have discovered three fairly new techniques that are being used in clinical; one of them may take you by surprise
The first technique is largely beneficial for hand rehabilitation, which many occupational therapist specialize in. The tool is sonography and it is used as a teaching tool. A sonography in the past was solely used as a diagnostic tool because it uses imagining instruments to create an image of body movement. Now it can be used to show people visual representations of their muscles, allowing them to see the difference between a normal and abnormal function. At the University of Southern California, they scan patients palms while pinching tweezers, allowing them to learn how to move their fingers.
The second techingue being used at large is LSVT BIG. This modality is specifically for patients with Parkison’s Disease (PD) it is shown to improve the quality of life for patients that are suffering from this disease. Those treated with LSVT BIG demonstrate increases in a larger range of motion movements. Treatment involves the commitment to hour-long sessions, four days weekly for one month. They must copy to OT’s exact movements and do a handful of fine-motor activities. The program also comes with at home tasks that must be completed. In the end the patient is able to move expansively and coordination will slowly become normalized.
The last technique I saved for last and it may be the most interesting and innovative of them all. This technique involves the use of video games. Yes, it is called Virtual rehabilitation and it uses video games to create a real-life context for implementing therapy. Practitioners will use this virtual environment to promote progress while people are having fun developing their skills. The OmniVR is one of these systems, it consists of a 3D camera and a computer software. This enables patients to interact with a virtual world while the therapist tracks activity; m,multiple exercise programs can be used this way. In the end, the video games achieve high levels of engagement and motivation to work harder and longer.