Where does technology fit in during rehabilitation?

As rehabilitation professionals we know the importance of incorporating “active ingredients” such as motivation, intensity, repetitions and progression into therapeutic exercise interventions. Technology can play an important role in achieving these active ingredients in the rehabilitation process.

Envision going to the clinic for your physiotherapy session and playing videogames which focus on improving your balance and reaction time. Picture using activity tracking device (example: Fitbit, Garmin, Nokia Steel, MisFit…) to help you stay motivated on a daily basis to increase your activity level by keeping track of your step count while being able to give you therapist objective at your next session. Think about having full access to your rehabilitation specialist from the comfort of your home simply by turning on your computer and video camera. These are all examples of financially accessible use of technology in rehabilitation. Sure, there is a whole other world of robotic technology out there but that is not as easily accessible and will be convert in a future BLOG!

Virtual reality

Virtual reality in form of video or “exergaming” allows the therapist to create an enjoyable setting to deliver the rehabilitation exercise. The key words here is ENJOYABLE! Enjoying the rehabilitation activity can lead to increase engagement which enable you to do this activity for a longer period of time. More rehabilitation activity = potential positive changes in motor or cognitive capacities.

Activity Tracking Device

 Activity tracking devices are easy to use and can provide quantifiable information related to the physical activity amounts throughout the rehabilitation process. For instance, monitoring heart rate and blood pressure on a daily basis can provide the therapist information about the patient’s routine, optimal intensities for rehabilitation, and criteria for discharge.


Tele-rehabilitation uses telecommunication technology to relay information between the patient and therapist through videoconferencing. For example, videoconferencing with your physiotherapist can help you connect with a specialist even if you live in a remote area or if you are unable to travel to a regularly to a rehabilitation clinic.

So, to answer the question: Where does technology fit in in rehabilitation? I think it depends on the rehabilitation goals, the comfort level with technology, your access to  and the desire to step outside of our traditional rehabilitation setting.

Now, I encourage you to go and explore the use of technology in your rehabilitation process!

Jennifer O’Neil, PT, C/NDT,

PhD (candidate) Rehabilitation Sciences University of Ottawa


Now on to amazing Caregivers

I recently saw this post from an amazing caregiver “Education is Key”. An active collaboration with patients is key to successful adherence to an intervention but what about the other piece of the puzzle? A caregiver is the person who provide the safe environment needed for a survivor of brain injury, as an example, to have a chance at succeeding in therapy. Caregivers are the planners, the schedule organizers, the ‘nutritionist’, the rehabilitation assistant, the taxi drivers but most importantly they are the number one fans willing to support their loved ones with open heart and acceptance.

When creating a treatment plan it is crucial to integrate the caregiver as an equal part of the equation. Without them, even with the best therapy based on the most recent evidence, compliance would suffer. So here is where education is key!  Proper education and active collaboration with the caregiver will allow for the best motor learning environment.

To end this brief post, I wanted to highlight the journey of one amazing caregiver and promote her work done in educating kids of parents who are survivors of a brain injury.

Her book : My Daddy’s Brain is available at Manticore Books.



Integrating Patients as Partners

I am hoping to set the tone for this blog and urge everyone linked to rehabilitation to stop and think about their connections with each other. In the rehab world, we have been talking about patient-centered care for years, but what about patient integrated care? Placing the patient at the middle of the equation is important, however it might not be the most effective way to conduct research or intervene as a clinician.

A recent blog from the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) sparked this conversation for me today. It showed how decisions, research, new interventions or program can be and SHOULD be influenced a priori by the patients. The  OBI’S “Patient Advisory Committees (PAC)” promote the implication of the patients, families and caregivers in being partners in research and clinical dissemination.

Now, as a clinician, how much room is left for the patient to be a true partner in his rehabilitation care? This is the new question we must ask ourself. Being patient-centered is not quite an equal partnership relationship. How can we, as therapist, integrate the patient in the decision making and treatment planning is the real question!

First, let’s start by asking them what is truly important to them and what would be the best way to achieve it. In my opinion we are often to quick to offer solutions or intervention options. We need to resist our urge to “fix” everything and  take a small step back in order to better understand where our patient is coming from and where he is going.

I hope this has captured your interest and made you reflect on how to better integrate our patients as partners of care.



Why Global neuro rehab?

Welcome to this new blog targeting topics around neurology, rehabilitation and global health. This blog will provide a platform to present novel rehabilitation interventions for neurological conditions. The goal is to share updated information related to neuro rehab (especially Traumatic brain injury (TBI), and spinal cord injury (SCI)), and global health-rehabilitation.

The globalneurorehab.wordpress.com blog will allow therapist, researchers, rehab students and patients to easily access clinically relevant information.

Happy reading!