Gesturetek Health - IREX Makes Therapy Fun For Kids

IREX Makes Therapy Fun For Kids


By Kenny Independent (Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute)
June 29 2007

At age 6, Carter Mortensen is ready for first grade. That’s no small feat for a child who was diagnosed with autism at age 2-1/2. For the past three years he has been receiving occupational, physical and speech therapy at the Kenny Kids Rehabilitation Program in Coon Rapids, Minn.

A new virtual reality technology at Kenny Kids is one reason that Carter is making noticeable progress in several areas, like eyehand coordination, large muscle control and body awareness.

Called Interactive Rehabilitation Exercise, or IREX, it is also addressing a key challenge in providing therapy to children: keeping them motivated. “If therapy isn’t fun, kids won’t do it,” said Sara Rohde, occupational therapist.

The IREX system includes a computer loaded with virtual reality software, a digital camera and a monitor. The camera projects the child’s image on the monitor, which also shows a virtual reality environment, such as a racecar track, soccer field or ski hill. The child interacts with the environment by catching or kicking balls, ducking to escape danger, or moving to avoid an obstacle.

The Sister Kenny Foundation funded the IREX system at Kenny Kids. IREX is also available at Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute at the Abbott Northwestern Hospital campus.

“For Carter, the best thing about IREX is that he loves it,” said Rohde. In addition, there is great flexibility in how the technology can be adapted to meet the unique therapy needs of each child

Carter Mortensen interacting with the IREX