The Hugo W. Moser Research Institute at Kennedy Krieger will be conducting research to look at the benefits of a recreational and therapeutic program for people with spinal cord injury. According to CNN, patients will use a virtual sailing simulator to test the effectiveness of sailing as a method of rehabilitation for spinal cord injuries.
New programs, such as the V-Sail access sailing simulator system, gives patients movement and stimulation to help maintain strength. Researchers hope that the 12-week course will improve upper body strength, general health, and self-esteem in people who suffer from spinal cord injuries.
One patient who crushed his spine in a ladder accident and became permanently paralyzed from the waist down, is hopeful about the benefits of the system. His injury has left him in a wheel cheer for the previous five years and his muscles continued to lose strength.
Researchers are using the V-Sail access sailing simulator system along with a computer to teach patients how to maneuver the craft of sailing. The system is the first sailing simulator available for people with disabilities and uses a boat-like vessel and virtual courses to give the patient a life-like sailing experience. Patients can select the wind strength and weather conditions to suit their ability. Electronic sensors provide real time feedback to match the movements of the virtual sailboat displayed on the screen with those of the simulator.
Kennedy Kreiger Institute, which is internationally recognized for its research in spinal cord injuries and treatment, serves more than 18,000 patients each year and is built on the philosophy that “with the right combination of therapies, recovery is always possible—even many months or years after an injury.”
A former quadriplegic, who had been working on rehabilitation at KKI since January 2011, recently participated in a 5K run. After being diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, a neurological disorder that occurs when the immune system abnormally attacks the spinal cord, she was paralyzed. With therapy and treatment, she was able to achieve her goal of completing the race.
Dr. Albert Recio hopes that by participating in the sailing study, “these patients will show demonstrable, measureable improvements in their physical and psychological wellbeing.” Researchers hope that the study will investigate the positive benefits of the sailing simulator and aid in their understanding of recovery from spinal cord injury.