The School of Physical Therapy at the University of South Florida (USF), located in Tampa, Fla, is using new technology to assist in rehabilitation. The university is utilizing the new Computer Assisted Rehab Environment, or CAREN, which is presently the only one in Florida, according to a news report. Vietnam veteran Rudy Salas is using CAREN to refine his mobility in a virtual setting. Salas, who has a prosthetic leg, is strapped in a harness and walking on a treadmill in front of a giant screen programmed with a racetrack. He is operating a virtual car.

The news report indicates that for Salas, getting treatment using CAREN in a controlled space helps him adapt what he is learning to the real world. Jason Highsmith, DPT, an associate professor in the program, states, “Folks with orthopedic injuries require procedures, joint replacements, amputation [can all benefit]. It might also help those with stroke and traumatic brain injury.”

The news report notes that the device may also enable individuals to recover from an accident or strengthen muscles in virtual reality.

The technology is not available to the public yet, but the news report notes that the research studies continue next year. The technology is already being used by the Department of Defense, which came to USF thanks in part to a $450,000 National Science Foundation grant. Additional funding is needed in the coming months.

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Photo Appears Courtesy of the University of South Florida