May 22, 2022

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Liv Arne (50) was completely weak.  Computer games helped him get back on his feet again.

Liv Arne (50) was completely weak. Computer games helped him get back on his feet again.

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– Beautiful, good! , comes from physiotherapist Janet Svarstad.

She cheers for Leiv Arne Austrheim who stands with VR goggles on his head and knocks virtual boxes at a brisk pace.

A year ago, Osterheim was completely paralyzed after suffering a stroke. He was then 49 years old. The only thing he could move were his eyes.

Osterheim tells us when the battle took place on April 15 last year. At home at Sandane it was an ordinary evening.

– No warnings

– There were no warnings. When I woke up in the morning, I was feeling nauseous and unsettled. I thought he was very ill and went to the doctor. He decided to send me to the hospital with blue lights.

During the ambulance, the situation suddenly became more tragic. At first he lost sensation in one foot, then the other.

– I fiddled with my cell phone to tell my son that I came home in the afternoon. Suddenly I lost my cell phone on the floor.

Within 10 minutes the whole body was paralyzed, including the ability to speak. From Forde he was flown to the University of Hawkeland Hospital.

There he lay trapped in his body for a short week.

– It was really scary, it comes quietly.

In May last year, Liv Arne Osterheim was wheelchair-dependent and a patient at a rehabilitation clinic in Nordas.

better than expected

When paralysis left the ceiling the long way back began.

It went much better than expected.

– In August, the family planned to rebuild the house to use wheelchairs. He happily says the only thing I need now is a handrail in the staircase outside.

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Getting this far requires months of training. First at the Nordos Rehabilitation Clinic and then at Forde Central Hospital.

At Forde, Janet Svarstad and colleague Stein Solvik became ill. The two were in the process of testing whether computer games and virtual reality glasses could help stroke patients.

Welcome break

Tried Austrheim and was hooked.

When I participated in the game, I was able to manage things that were previously impossible. Extending the arm fully for example.

– The computer game also provided a welcome break from life in the hospital.

Janet Svarstad assists Liv Arne Osterheim with the headset. Now you must play.

Many patients report similar observations, says Janet Svarstad.

– We test that patients are excited about the virtual reality game. It makes it easier to maintain the motivation to train, she says.

They are now in the process of disseminating the expertise to other physiotherapists at the hospital. The goal is to use virtual reality training in the rehabilitation of all patients, not just those with stroke.

Students make games for hospitals

The success story from Førde was presented at a conference in Høgskulen på Vestlandet before the weekend. The topic was the use of virtual reality in the health and social sciences.

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The examples are numerous. In collaboration with Helse vest IKT and hospitals, students at Høgskulen have developed several virtual reality games.

Some are used in patient care. Others to train students and hospital staff.

Two toys were made at the request of Forde’s physiotherapists. They are about training fine motor skills and cognitive abilities, as well as the business game they have used so far.

– via cooperation

The key to developing the game is connecting engineering students with health students, says Monica Wamn Nortvedt, vice dean for collaboration.

– Fiery Souls started this business. We now want to facilitate more cross-collaboration.

Headphones and two controllers are the gateway to a virtual world.

An important area is the Learning Lab, where students in all subjects can play with new technology. In January, all five universities received a teaching lab.

The next step will be to market the students’ products.

– Then we also need to connect economists and entrepreneurs, says Nordtvedt.

Ann-Grethy Naustdahl, the university’s vice chancellor for education, states that there has always been close collaboration between undergraduate college and internships.

Also, the lack of employment

– When we also use new technology, we ensure that our candidates can participate in developing services, she says.

The virtual reality project in Førde does not aim to replace living physical therapists, but rather to give them a new tool. The same goes for many other VR games that have been developed.

— But we must also include the aspect where new technology will solve some of the challenges the health service faces with workforce shortages, says Naustdahl.

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Reasonable sweat on the forehead

At his home in Sandane, Leiv Arne Austrheim went to buy equipment and the game “Beat Saber,” which he became acquainted with at the hospital.

The game is about destroying chests with two swords.

Leiv Arne Austrheim started at the lower level, but played two stages in “Beat Saber”.

– Twice – three times a week I play. After 25 minutes, I’m reasonably sweating in my forehead.

The stroke can still be felt in the movements, but the shape is rising. Next month, he’s trying to get back to work in the family garage.

– I did not recover from the computer game, but with other treatments it had an effect. He says with a smile, not least that you are renewing your self-confidence.

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