ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 229

Promoted Article The Times of Israel - Promoted Content Rofeh Cholim Association
IDF soldiers wounded in the war with Hamas walk in the rehabilitation division of Sheba hospital in Ramat Gan, December 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
IDF soldiers wounded in the war with Hamas walk in the rehabilitation division of Sheba hospital in Ramat Gan, December 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Project Mobility: Healing Israel’s Wounded Warriors

Project Mobility aims to help wounded IDF soldiers recover with proven VR physiotherapy game-play technology. They need your support to bring this equipment to Israel.

Therapy as “Fun”

Project Mobility is a new initiative that aims to help Israel’s wounded warriors and victims of Hamas’s October 7th attack to recover from life-altering injuries using an innovative treatment method that combines cutting-edge technology with simple fun. The program employs virtual-reality game-play to harness patients’ natural engagement with a treatment that is enjoyable. The equipment has been proven to aid in the recovery of traumatic injury patients in the U.S. and Canada, and it’s being prepared now to deploy as quickly as possible to Israel at this time of need. Donations are needed to complete production and delivery.

A patient receiving virtual reality assisted treatment sees himself immersed into a virtual world to perform rehabilitative movements intuitively. Clinical studies reveal dramatically better, faster results for patients.

Emphasizing fun may seem out of place in a time of war, but treatment compliance is often the key factor to full and rapid recovery in traumatic injury patients. By making physical therapy exercises fun, the technology being utilized by Project Mobility, called IREX (Immersive Rehabilitation Exercise), significantly speeds and improves recovery for physiotherapy patients, while lowering costs.

Among the 750+ IREX systems that have gone into service in America and other countries during its development, Beth Abraham Health Services, one of the largest long-term care providers in New York, was an early adopter. It was the first provider in New York City to install Immersive Rehabilitation Exercise into its Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation (CNR), where the efficacy of IREX prompted them to employ additional units across other departments at Beth Abraham. IREX has also been embraced by the Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Heath Care, Alberta Children’s Hospital, and a variety of other major healthcare service providers.

The fun of the IREX system is derived from video-game like VR engagement. Patients are projected on a display screen and prompted to perform a variety of tasks in virtual scenarios tailored towards their preferences.“We put the patient into a computer-generated world that allows for isolated or combined joint movement or even full-bodied functional movements,” explained Randy Palmaira in conversation with Orthopedics Today, when he was Corporate Director of Rehabilitation for Beth Abraham Health Services. “The system also compiles data based on these movements for the therapist.” His center was the first health care facility in New York City to offer virtual rehabilitation.

Patients are guided through clinician-prescribed exercise regimes to test single or combined joint movement, or full body function. A variety of scenarios depicted by the system are designed to target specific areas of the body. The breakthrough in this approach is that patients have fun and gain a sense of control and achievement, while at the same time improving their abilities in everything from balance and trunk control to mobility and executive functioning. Patients are monitored by the system’s 3D cameras to generate data about patient compliance and improvement for analysis by medical caregivers. IREX will also be helpful to Israel’s elderly to preserve mobility and independence. Even children benefit from the contribution of gesture controlled interactivity, as determined at the University of Haifa during early testing for training of children to obey traffic signals. This work was collaborative with the developers of IREX.

Physiotherapy healing is more enjoyable and effective when patients see themselves performing interesting tasks on screen.

Palmaira further explained, “research on stroke rehabilitation showed that video game-based therapy can enhance patient effort and motivation during physical therapy sessions.” Research into this equipment by the American Heart Association and by other medical organizations reveals that there is an established healthcare user base for this touch-free interactive technology. This is the insight by which Rofeh Cholim Association recognized a special opportunity to support Israel. Project Mobility brings this treatment equipment to Israeli patients and health care providers to help address the physical therapy backlog.

Patient response to the IREX system is very positive, Palmaira continued. “When patients are first introduced to the system, they are excited and intrigued to see what it has to offer,” he said. “When they see how much progress they are making, other benefits, such as increased compliance and adherence to therapy regimes, increased enjoyment and desire to engage in the exercise, and even pain diversion, become evident as well.”
Unlike traditional rehabilitation where the therapist must interrupt patients’ movements to take goniometric measurements, the virtual system incorporates a virtual goniometer that is displayed on-screen. Programs can be set for a bell to ring when patients have reached a specific functional target, such as 90° of knee flexion. The system also has a deflection mode which determines the amount of force a patient is exerting. A report is printed at the end of each session detailing the patient’s accuracy during the program.

Of importance to donors is the fact that the gifted virtual rehabilitation systems will be beneficial for patients in Israel who have far ranging impairments including neurological challenges, have undergone an amputation or have had a surgical procedure that resulted in weight-bearing restrictions, such as fractures and total hip and knee replacements. This describes the majority of patients in the rehabilitation system backlog.

Israeli Partnership – Shared Vision

IDF soldier Jonathan Ben Hamou, 22, wounded in the war with Hamas, in his room at Sheba hospital’s rehabilitation division, in Ramat Gan, December 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

The distribution partner in Israel for Project Mobility is the Ezrat Achim Medical Assistance Center located in Beit Shemesh. This registered charity was founded in 1997 by Avraham Kopp. As a trained paramedic and local head of ZAKA, Kopp is often first on the scene in any crisis. He is the kind of person who is undeterred by tragic and complicated circumstances. Kopp observed that many residents of Beit Shemesh, who were dealing with illnesses and chronic medical conditions, did not have access to the medical equipment they needed. He decided to first establish an equipment loan center out of his own home and started off with humidifiers and crutches. Today, the Ezrat Achim Center is located in a modern commercial building with warehousing to hold medical equipment for loan, free of charge, to residents throughout the city.

“We are pleased and honored to assist Rofeh Cholim Association in Project Mobility” states Mr. Kopp, addressing the Association’s partnership, adding, “We will find the right home for however many physiotherapy systems that you can put into our hands. It is our mutual goal to be of service to Israeli society in a time of need. We are also very grateful for the additional wheelchairs that Project Mobility will be donating to us in our partnership!”

Project Mobility Partner Ezrat Achim Medical Assistance Center provides help to Israelis needing donated medical equipment and transportation. (Photo Credit Ezrat Achim)

The mission of Project Mobility is to donate 1,000 IREX units to Israel’s hospitals and clinics, caregivers, and to patients, asap. This would transform the overall flow of rehabilitation treatments in Israel and is estimated to facilitate over a million patient sessions. At this scale, the project will have national impact.

How Donors Can Learn More or Contribute

Israel’s healthcare system is now grappling with treating an unprecedented and growing number physiotherapy patients, and medical resources that improve the quality and efficiency of physical rehabilitation are urgently needed. America’s charitable Rofeh Cholim Association has taken up the challenge to deliver such systems to Israel in order to address the need with Project Mobility. Grass roots financial support is the key to getting Project Mobility into full swing for Israeli patients. Patients will include soldiers and civilians across Israel.

Rofeh Cholim Association Bais Shalom Charity is IRS registered. Project Mobility donors automatically receive a tax receipt for their contribution, which is processed through The Chesed Fund. Project Mobility will place an engraved plaque on every sponsored IREX system to bear a permanent message from the donor, if desired. Full details and videos describing Project Mobility are available at the project website www.RofehCholimAssociationSupport.org. This is an exciting new way to  help Israel.

Please help Israel’s wounded warriors to recover

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