Interactive Technology Makes Rehabilitation Easy

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Who says rehabilitation has to be all work and no play after an injury? Thanks to new state-of-art technology, Beaumont patients can speed their recovery with an interactive exercise machine called the Cybex Trazer. It has a game-like feel, complete with scoring and even trap doors. Therapists can also add virtual reality.

Karen Guida, 60, of Clarkston had a very painful right foot. Not only did it affect her ability to get around, but more importantly sidelined her from her passion- tennis. She found out her pain was a result of a combination of plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. The latter was repaired surgically by her Beaumont doctor. She was told before returning to the court, she'd have to undergo extensive outpatient rehabilitation.

Achilles tendonitis is the inflammation of the large tendon in the back of the ankle. This is a common overuse injury among recreational athletes. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the tissue that forms the foot's arch becomes inflamed.

After eight weeks of staying off her foot, Guida was ready for her rehabilitation at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. She was pleasantly surprised that part of her recovery program included the new Cybex Trazer. In fact, she was the first Beaumont patient to use this new machine.

"The new equipment definitely helped me both physically and mentally. I not only felt stronger and more mobile after each session, but also mentally tougher," explained Guida. "It really boosted my confidence."


Certified athletic trainer Eric Oliver and David Costello, supervisor, Physical Therapy and Athletic Training Services, developed a program specifically for Guida with the goal of getting her back on the tennis court in early 2009.

The Cybex Trazer uses infrared technology. At the beginning of each session, Guida strapped on a waist belt with infrared sensors. The sensors tracked her movements within an area of 10 square feet and transmitted that data, in addition to heart rate, calories burned and time elapsed to the computer/monitor system. Along with more traditional rehab exercises, Karen came to Royal Oak for three one-hour sessions on the Trazer for three consecutive weeks.

Costello and Oliver developed activities that became more advanced as Karen progressed. Each session provided a score card with a progress report. She even did some activities with her tennis racquet.

Unlike the Ninetendo Wii, which has become popular as a rehabilitation tool, the Cybex Trazer allows for customization of movements based upon each patient's needs.

"The Trazer is another important tool to help our patients along their road to recovery," says Oliver. "Karen really embraced the game-like activities. No matter the task at hand she was focused. This resulted in becoming more efficient with her movements and gaining a greater confidence."

While this new technology is ideal for rehabbing sports injuries, programs are being developed to benefit patients of all ages recovering from stroke, back problems and shoulder pain. Furthermore, healthy athletes can benefit from the Trazer by improving their agility, balance and endurance.