The Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital is using a locally developed hockey video game to help patients recover from traumatic injuries.
Bryanna Forest, 10, is currently recovering at the Glenrose from a headache that turned into a life threatening condition.
Bryanna was visiting relatives in Edmonton a month ago when she began complaining of a headache.
“It snowballed from there,” said her mother Angela Forest. “Within five hours we were rolled into brain surgery. She had a massive brain bleed on her left side.”
When Bryanna left the Stollery Children’s Hospital, she couldn’t walk and had trouble speaking. Traditional physical therapy wasn’t maintaining her interest.
“They made me walk and use stairs and all that stuff,” Bryanna said. “That’s not fun.”
But now, she gets to recover while playing hockey, her favourite sport.
“My mom and my other two sisters and me, we’re at the rink five hours a day for six days a week,” Bryanna said.
Hockey Nation is an Edmonton invention that’s allowing children like Bryanna to make significant strides in recovery while playing their favourite sport.
Jessica Da Costa, Bryanna’s physical therapist, says unlike traditional video games, Hockey Nation motivates kids to work on skills like balance, coordination and cognitive abilities.
“A lot of kids like to play kinect games but a lot of them are too fast or too difficult for them,” Da Costa said. “So what’s nice about Hockey Nation is we can change the settings to make it [customized] for each patient.”
Quentin Ranson, who developed Hockey Nation with the help of NAIT students, wanted to create a game that looked and played like the real thing.
“So when the kid played it, they didn’t feel like they were playing a game for a disabled child,” Ranson said. “It feels like you’re playing a legitimate off-the-shelf game.”
Bryanna can’t get back on the ice just yet, but for her, this is the next best thing.
“My balance has gotten really really good,” she said.
Two weeks ago, Bryanna was on the trampoline with physical therapist Da Costa, who had to hold her up by her belt.
“This week,” she said, “I could do it all by myself.”