By: Ashley Strehl - Managing Editor of Print and Digital Publications
A resident living within a nursing home typically sees the same things every day. Nursing carts, Bingo cards and wheelchairs are all they may get to see in a day. However, residents with Voyage Long Term Care can now see the ocean, dinosaurs, travel to another country, and even ride roller coasters with this newly implemented form of dynamic therapy.
Voyage LTC’s in-house Director of Rehabilitation, Lindsey Smith, struck inspiration when she gifted her children a Meta Quest 2, an interactive virtual reality gaming device, for Christmas. “After I started using it at home, I realized how fun and different it was,” Simth said. “So, I thought it would be a great idea to bring it to the homes and get the residents moving in a different way than they’ve ever moved before.”
Formally known as Oculus, Meta Quest 2 was released in September 2020. Since then, this three-piece gaming system has not set a new standard for the gaming industry as a whole, but has also paved the way for new methods in industrial safety, healthcare, and education.
Meta Quest 2 offers hundreds of games and apps that are available on their exclusive online store, and each system can hold up to 50 games each. Games can range from first-person shooters, to sports, to simulations, and they often require the player to engage their entire bodies as though they themselves are within the game. This gives the player an opportunity to experience out-of-this world scenarios from the comfort of their own homes.
Engaging the entire body and mind while using Meta Quest 2 is largely similar to the primary methods used during dynamic therapy. Dynamic therapy is a common practice used by therapists like Smith when facilitating in-house treatments to the residents of Edmond Health Care Center and Oak Hills Care Center.
Physical, occupational, and restorative therapy are the most common methods found within long-term care and nursing and rehabilitation settings. However, dynamic therapy is somewhat of a “freestyle” method that utilizes all forms of therapy and tailors to the specific needs of the patient undergoing treatment.
Specifically, dynamic therapy incorporates decision-making, joint movement, communication, cognitive recognition, and much more. When it comes to finding new methods in dynamic therapy, Smith knows that the sky is the limit. “I wanted to do something dynamic that wasn’t just lifting weights,” Smith said. “I wanted to teach the residents that there are ways to stay strong without lifting weights and doing regular exercise, and that it can be fun.”
How the Utilization of Meta Quest 2 Can be More Beneficial Than Common Dynamic Therapy Methods
By placing the Meta Quest 2 device over the eyes and adjusting the head strap, the user immerses themselves within a 360-degree view of virtual reality with surround sound. Accompanying the headset are two controls that are placed in the right and left hands of the user, which they can use to interact with the experience. The device automatically senses a three-foot radius around the player, so they have room to engage their body by swinging, kicking, leaning, and/or turning to play the game or participate in the experience.
Smith says that by having fun with Meta Quest 2, the residents will get more out of their therapy sessions. “I focus on play a lot during therapy,” Smith said. “With Meta Quest 2, we get to keep the excercise in the therapy, and also incorporate the play. We can do kickboxing, bowling, tennis, and baseball. It doesn’t have to be exercise either, we can just take a nice stroll down the Wall of China, too. Right now, the residents really seem to like fishing, riding rollercoasters, and playing Beat Saber. We can go from prehistoric, to futuristic, and anything in between.”
A resident plays the musically motivated Meta Quest 2 game, Beat Saber, during therapy at EHCC
Currently, Smith has only just begun therapy using the new virtual-reality device with residents at EHCC, but is actively planning to take Meta Quest 2 to Oak Hills Care Center in the near future. “The world is moving at a fast pace, and technology is becoming more innovative all the time,” Smith said. “By incorporating Meta Quest 2 into therapy, I want to keep the residents in tune with modern technology. I want to help the residents not be so intimidated by technology, because soon, interactive experiences will be available all over their home. I want them to be excited to join in, instead of running away.”
More interactive experiences like a Wii gaming wall, and a Beam interactive floor gaming system are just a few examples of devices that Voyage is working to incorporate across its long-term care communities. “It’s really exciting to see the residents get to experience things they’ve never seen before, or even things they never thought they’d get to see again,” Smith said.