Therapists Take to Augment Therapy with Zeal

The kids I'm doing sessions with think they're playing video games, so it's easy to get them working.

Among the earliest adopters of Augment Therapy is Elizabeth Hockey. Elizabeth has almost 40 years of experience as a physical therapist, 27 of which were spent as Pediatric Rehab Director at the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and Children’s University Hospital in Cleveland. She not only tested the Augment Therapy software in its early development , but has also studied its efficacy in inpatient and outpatient rehab settings.

From her preliminary studies, Hockey reports that Augment Therapy has led to unprecedented patient engagement. “I’ve been very excited to work with this new technology to encourage patients to be more engaged in their exercises,” says Hockey. “One of the first patients I used it with was so ‘into it’ that she forgot that she was standing on a single leg for so long; she had never done that before.”

Similarly, for a young boy with Cerebral Palsy, Hockey explains that “he so looked forward to doing AT, and the prospect of using it was literally what got him to agree to get out of bed […] and he would go and go until he was exhausted; his mom said that it was the first time he had enjoyed PT in his life!” This boy’s experience was not the exception. Hockey notes that, “every patient who has used [Augment Therapy] reported that if they had this technology at home they would be more likely to do their exercises.”

Amy Pratt is another accomplished Ohio-based physical therapist, having had nearly 20 years experience in schools. She works with patients aged 2 to 22, and she was eager to give the early Augment Therapy software a try. The feedback from her early trial runs were essential in developing a working version of the software. These trials also helped Amy motivate kids to do their physical therapy, both in-person and online.

In her assessment, Augment Therapy has been a “fun and exciting” experience for both Amy and the children with whom she works. She too has witnessed a deep engagement among kids using Augment Therapy. “The hardest part is limiting our sessions to just 30 minutes,” Amy says. “The kids I’m doing sessions with think they’re playing video games, so it’s easy to get them working.”

Amy has also seen the potential boon Augment Therapy adds to online therapy when compared to video call apps. “When we were doing teletherapy for COVID-19 distance learning through Zoom or Google Meet, we had some productive PT sessions, but it was difficult to keep my students in the camera where I could see them. Augment Therapy also allows me to watch them doing the activities I choose for them, and the avatar does the demonstrations for me, so I don’t have to keep running back to get far enough away from the computer for them to see my model, then run back up to see them doing the exercise.” Because Augment Therapy is designed specifically for physical therapy, it eliminates the difficulties of trying to do online sessions through video-communication services. This sort of “telehealth” is another exciting application of Augment Therapy that’s being bolstered as we speak.

Susan Morgan has also applied Augment Therapy to long-distance care. She’s worked as a physical therapist for almost thirty years, dividing her time between the Cleveland Clinic and the MetroHealth Medical Center (also in Cleveland). She recently moved to New Hampshire to do school-based physical therapy, mostly at the elementary level. It was in 2020 that she first heard about Augment Therapy, and, given the onset of the pandemic, she immediately became intrigued by its applications for remote therapy. “My students were losing focus during our remote sessions,” Morgan says, “making it difficult for them to make progress. It was becoming more frustrating for all involved, especially the parents.”

But with Augment Therapy, things quickly changed. “Now that I am using Augment Therapy with my students,” Morgan explains, “they are engaged, focused and pushing themselves to improve. They love that they see themselves moving and exercising on the big screen. I love the instant feedback the software provides to both the student and myself as the therapist. The students get so excited when they hear how many stars they earned for each exercise!”

Take it from these therapists: Augment Therapy engages kids. By putting kids onscreen in a game, Augment Therapy has made physical therapy more rewarding for its early adopters. Thanks to Augment Therapy, kids are the stars in their therapy, as it should be. But without these amazing physical therapists, Augment Therapy’s implementation would not have been possible. Thank you, therapists, and keep up the good work!