Woman rushed to hospital after freak horse accident uses virtual reality games to ride again

By Staff

A South West London hospital is using virtual reality to treat trauma patients making them ‘forget they are in hospital’ and boosting their recovery. Trauma patients at St George’s Hospital with rib fractures, serious leg injuries and amputations are using virtual reality headsets during physio sessions.

It includes those who have been assaulted, had a serious fall, or have been injured in a road accident – like patient Jack Fowler-Thick. The 18-year-old was badly hurt in a motorcycle crash and suffered multiple injuries. Speaking during a bedside therapy session on the major trauma ward led by trauma physiotherapist Elly Tebbutt, Jack said: “I look forward to this part of the day the best.

“No one wants to end up in hospital, and this makes me forget that I’m here. It really helps,” added Jack, as he sits on the edge of his chair during a fruit-picking simulation. “When I played this yesterday I was in a lot of pain, I found it really hard to move, but I felt much better after using the headset.”

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The headset offers a series of personalised games, such as boxing and archery, and encourages patients like Jack to move through pain. Another patient trialling the therapy is Becky Perry. Becky was rushed to hospital after a freak accident on her horse.

She has an open femur fracture, as well as some rib injuries from a previous incident. “It makes me forget that I’m in hospital,” said Becky. “Mentally it helps, because I just push through the pain, and I feel like it’s helping my movement and making me stretch more.

“You forget that you’re doing it. The woman in the bed opposite me was laughing so much the other day, I must have looked so silly – but it really does help. I definitely think other patients would benefit, I’d recommend it to anyone.”

Virtual reality in healthcare is not used anywhere else in a major trauma setting to rehabilitate patients. 50 people have trialled the treatment so far and the physiotherapists have seen an improvement. Beth Kenny said: “Recovering from a life-changing injury can be painful and scary, and patients often worry their injury could become worse when they start moving around.

“But our virtual reality headsets encourage patients like Becky and Jack to move through the pain in a safe way and effective way.”

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