Virtual reality technology lets long-term care residents experience different world – Okanagan

Gerald Hardychuk has been using a wheelchair for 15 years.

A 50-year-old man from Kelowna, BC has multiple sclerosis (MS) and lives in Cottonwoods Extended Care Home.

“Before he had multiple sclerosis, he was incredibly active,” said Taryn Milway, Hardichuk’s sister. “He has accomplished a lot, both physically and sportingly.”

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But Hardychuk is now able to experience some of the things he used to love, along with new things, thanks to his newly acquired technology.

“It’s called Rendever Virtual Reality (VR), and it’s an immersive virtual reality platform,” says Lauren Knapton, one of Cottonwoods’ clinical rec therapists.

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Virtual reality allows people to wear headsets to travel the world, sightsee, walk in forests, and participate in extreme sports like skydiving and rock climbing. can.

This technology provides users with the most authentic experience possible.

“Fishing, hunting, kayaking, diving with dolphins, safaris, basically anything,” said Napton.

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IH began using virtual reality during the 2020 pandemic as a way to support people feeling isolated due to lack of social interaction.

“It was a way for us to bring in the outside world and allow our residents to have moments of joy like they have never experienced before, especially in the wake of COVID-19. has just rolled it out,” Knapton said.

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The technology is currently being used at 19 facilities operated by Interior Health.

“As a Rec Therapist, it’s hard to program for everyone, so with this tool, I know I can reach out to everyone,” says Knapton.

It is said to have a positive impact on residents using technology.

“We do pre- and post-session assessments after each session, and all of the residents who use VR consistently say they feel better after the session,” says Knapton.

On Friday, Hardychuk was asked by Clinical Rec Therapist Michelle Wingfield what activities she would like to experience this time, and was given several options.

“Snowmobiles, motorcycles, roller coasters. What do you think we will do today?” she asked Hardicuk.

He replied, “Everything.”

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When asked what he thought of virtual skiing in Colorado, Hardychuk said, “It’s great.”

Hardychuk’s sister, Taryn Millway, was overjoyed when Hardychuk got the chance to experience VR for the first time.

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“He’s been out of his wheelchair for 15 years so it was pretty cool to hear he had to go on a roller coaster,” Milway told Global News.

Since then, Hardychuk has ventured into all kinds of extreme sports to satisfy his adrenaline rush needs.

“I think he did some things that he had done in his life that he had goals to do in life before he had to live there. So it was a really great idea,” Millway said. says.

VR is also being used by other BC health authorities.

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© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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