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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Come Sail Away

Published June 21, 2011 6:01 PM by Rebecca Mayer

Leisure activities are important in the development and fulfillment of a person's life. Research has shown that how one chooses to spend his leisure time may have a greater impact on quality of life than any other area of behavior and experience.

In keeping with this notion, The Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD, has added a sailboat simulator to its long list of therapy tools. This sailboat is used to build confidence as well as to challenge the skill sets of patients with disabilities.

According to researchers with The Kennedy Krieger Institute's International Center for Spinal Cord Injury (ICSCI), the known benefits of exercise along with anecdotal and clinical case study evidence provides strong support for the value of Activity Based Restorative Therapies (ABRT) in helping individuals with spinal cord injury recover sensation, function, and mobility.

These researchers are currently conducting a clinical study to look at the benefits of a recreational and therapeutic program for adults-ages 18 to 55-with spinal cord injury using the VSail-Access sailing simulator.

The VSail-Access is the first sailing simulator available for people with disabilities. The sailor sails the simulator around virtual courses displayed on a computer screen in the same way as a real sailboat on water. Electronic sensors provide real time feedback to match the movements of the virtual sailboat displayed on the screen with those of the simulator. Various course configurations and wind conditions can be selected to suit any level of sailor from complete beginner to advanced sailor.

This study may benefit others in the future by helping understand how a virtual sailing recreational and therapeutic program might contribute to an improved quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries.

Please visit our new photo gallery of an event recently held at The Kennedy Krieger Institute in which the VSail was demonstrated, and feel free to share your thoughts with us.



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