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Play to better recover from illness

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People treated at HJR Laval suffer from neurological problems, often following a stroke or illness. Several faculties of the human body can be affected: balance, motor control, range of motion or concentration are just a few examples.

Montreal-based Jintronix is ​​the studio behind the game library used at HJR. Specially designed for clinical programs, these interactive activities take into account the realities specific to rehabilitation. According to Julie Ouellet, the great flexibility in the configuration of these exercises allows her to target needs with precision.

One can vary the intensity for the time, the speed of execution, the number of stimulations that will appear on the screen, the speed with which the stimuli will disappear or the speed with which new stimuli will appear, lists the Occupational therapist. There really is a way to scale that. This is why it covers a broad spectrum of clientele in neurology.

86-year-old Laurent Hamel is battling Parkinson’s disease. In front of the television illuminated by images of the game of the mole (Whac-A-Mole), he activates to the rhythm of sound markers. His goal: to set his feet on the targets offered to him in time and thus knock out the moles that pop their heads out of their virtual burrow.

Since last July, he has been under the supervision of the staff at the HJR, and at the rate of three sessions a week, he devotes himself to this type of playful exercises in the video games room of the hospital.

The more I go, the more I advance!says Mr. Hamel. And above all, I like the exercises. By coming here, it allows me to do it and it’s better than staying at home. You see results, so that’s perfect.

We work on Mr. Hamel’s lateral movements as if he were along the kitchen counter, to fetch objects, move back, move forward, avoid the refrigerator door, go to the sink, explains occupational therapist Julie Ouellet. The beauty of mole play is that you make him work on these movements to make him more stable when he goes to prepare his meal.

When he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s four years ago, Mr. Hamel’s disease was progressing rapidly. His hands were shaking and fatigue was slowing him down. He had to deal with problems with dizziness and vertigo. Determined to counter the progress of this disease, which attacks the nervous system, he met many specialists and agreed to participate in various researches. This is how he joined the ambulatory clientele of the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital.

Today, faced with a new simulation where he has to bend his knees like a skier, Mr. Hamel’s gestures are confident. His cane remained in a corner throughout the session under the supervision of Julie Ouellet.

Since using video games with my physiotherapist, my balance has improved, says the octogenarian. I take a cane to be safe, but I don’t really need it anymore. Before, I had a cane and a walker [pour me déplacer]. And there, I no longer use it at all, and yet, where I stay, there are long corridors.

People in my family who haven’t seen me for a long time, with my improvements, tell me that I have rejuvenated [quand je les rencontre]he adds proudly.

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