Prattville 'FYZICAL' Therapy Center Implementing Virtual Reality Motion Simulator
Fyzical Therapy and Balance Center in Prattville is paving the way for the future of fitness and wellness through their newly acquired Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP) and Rehabilitation Motion Simulator, or simply put – Virtualis VR: Virtual Reality.
Each Fyzical location is franchised, spanning all throughout the country – with over 10 locations in Alabama. The Prattville franchise, which initially opened in July 2020, is the first in the state to utilize the Virtualis machine. Not only that, they are currently the only location that offers physical therapy services of any kind in Alabama that utilizes this technology.
While similar to motion simulators utilized across the state, the Virtualis separates itself with its state-of-the-art virtual reality goggles that simulate a variety of scenarios that would require patients to master their balance and control their physical stance.
At its core, Virtualis brings virtual reality into rehab for advanced results, and helps patients recovering from orthopedic, neurological, or cervical aliments with a range of tests that culminate into an all-in-one-tool for comprehensive patient management.
For example, patients with spinal injuries will be able to benefit from active limb or spine rehabilitation environments that can be fully configured according to their movement or grasping abilities. In a playful environment, the patient will focus on a task to be performed, and the practitioner will modulate in real time the virtual environment either to increase the difficulty or on the contrary to decrease it in case of fatigue of the patient.
“It’s going to change the way that we do physical therapy,” said Dawn Sexton, PT and Owner of Fyzical Therapy in Prattville.
Sexton explained that balance, a key component for anyone who utilizes the machine, is governed by three different sensory inputs:
- Somatosensory – proprioception (where your feet are and what they are telling you)
- Visual – what are your eyes seeing – depth, size, length, and type of surface
- Vestibular – your inner ear – which gives you a sense of balance, spatial orientation and coordinating the movement with balance
“The Virtualis test has several components – eyes open and eyes closed, head movement and room movement where the patient stands on the floor and then on foam. After the test, a computerized read out allows the therapist to see which of the three senses, somatosensory, visual or vestibular the patient needs the most work to correct the balance issues,” Sexton said.
Somatosensory helps patients to work on hip/ankle strategies and proprioception on programs such as Bird VR, Spine VR and hand-eye coordination activities.
Similarly, the visual dynamic helps patients to work on standing position and visual dependency throughout various landscapes and movements.
Vestibular works on center of gravity, hip strategy, stability and head movement with programs like head-eye coordination, whack-a-mash, reflex VR and target tracking.
Sexton said that the balance training that Virtualis specializes in is perfect for those who experience frequent falling, proprioceptive deficiency or other problems that would affect the legs.
Beyond balance training, Virtualis can help those who are experiencing orthopedic problems, such as cervical and back pain, can focus on core and leg strengthening, and helps to ease the negative affects of vestibular aliments such as dizziness caused by vertigo.
“It can do just about anything,” Sexton said.
Sexton explained that they see 30 patients, two to three times a week, aging from 20-80. They soon hope to start immersing more and more of them in the Virtualis experience as time goes on.
“It’s a great way to get a feel for what our patients need before we begin to train them on some of our other equipment,” Sexton said.
Fyzical Therapy and Balance Center has a myriad of other tools and equipment to help patients get back on the path of wellness, such as medical exercise therapy, strengthening exercises, fall prevention, and much more.
Sexton said that the location of their practice, as well as the future of the franchise, is shining bright.
“I came to Prattville because I knew that this area was a growing community. We want to help as many people as we possibly can, and this [the Virtualis] is going to help us tremendously in the screening process. Everything is still ahead of us moving forward,” Sexton said with a smile.
The business is located in the Pratt’s Mill Shopping Center near Central Alabama Community College.
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Article by Andrew Edwards / Elmore/Autauga News Staff Writer
Top Photo: DawnSexton, at left, works with a patient at Fyzical Therapy and Balance Center of Prattville.