How RESTORE is Changing the Rehab Game During COVID-19
Keith Stoddard

COVID-19 has changed the way that nursing homes and rehab facilities across the nation have been forced to operate. In many cases these facilities are not allowing visitors to come into the building and have been forced to cut down on the number of staff that is on hand at any given time. In light of these issues, RESTORE has been gearing their programs and software to try to alleviate the issues that are faced by all of parties involved.

RESTORE is a company that focuses on creating virtual reality gaming experiences that can be used for rehabilitation. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have released a new program called RESTORE remote which conquers many of the issues that are now being faced on a daily basis. This new program allows patients to video chat with loved ones and friends while they are going through their rehabilitation sessions. Recently the CEO of RESTORE, Eran Arden, noted how these changes in interaction can be positive saying, “it can be a meaningful interaction where physical therapists can be present and the patient can show their loved ones how they are building skills or playing games.”

This adds a layer of connection that can often be lost when people are solely communicating over the phone or some other video chat application. Not only does it deepen the interaction between patients and their loved ones, but it may also be able to help them improve their performances. Arden gives an example of a patient exceeding their normal activity level saying, “while playing one of our games, with a family member joining the conversation and motivating how well he is doing, you end up having fifteen minutes of activity where the patient would be actively moving both of his arms up and down. So yes, the patient is exhausted in the end, but I think we now all understand that the patient can actually have an activity level of fifteen minutes and not two.”

RESTORE has also recently noted that they will be releasing a multiplayer mode to their program where loved ones can actually take part in the games that patients are going through throughout their session. This multiplayer function can also be used between patients in an attempt to create a sense of competition or teamwork that may encourage them to work harder toward their goals. One example of this is a bingo game where patients are able to play in their respective rooms with other patients while working on the motor skill required to operate the interface. The hope is that this mode will be out soon and will help deepen the sessions that patients take part in using RESTORE.

Another aspect that RESTORE is helping with during the COVID-19 quarantines is with accessibility to equipment and assistance. According to Eran Arden, RESTORE can be used with any computer that has access to the internet and a webcam. This allows for physical therapy sessions to be held in the patient’s individual rooms rather than a designated area or gym. This is important now more than ever as staff members are trying to limit the exposure that they have with patients, and the exposure that patients have with each other. Since these programs are self-guided, patients can go through these sessions by themselves or with the help of a staff member that is not a trained physical therapist. This program allows patients to continue the sessions that they have been having despite all of the new rules and regulations that have been put into place the last year.

Going forward the hope is that RESTORE will be able to take these new programs and continue to grow and connect patients with their loved ones no matter what their situation may be. RESTORE has seen a large increase in users and use during the pandemic which shows that there is a need for programs such as this not only now, but in the future as well. “If I’m in New Jersey and my grandma is in a facility in California, I would love to have an opportunity to see a video of her therapy session engaging in a skill building activity. There is no difference in this during COVID or post COVID,” says Arden.

The challenges that facilities have faced during this time period have revealed that there may be better ways to do certain things such as physical therapy or connecting with loved ones. As the COVID-19 pandemic eventually fades away and people begin to return to their normal lives, it will be important to look at what has changed and see if they can be used going forward or not. Companies such as RESTORE bring a new approach to the world of physical therapy and have the potential to make a positive impact on the industry for the foreseeable future.