Kinect hockey game used in rehab

Credits: REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

Catherine Griwkowsky | QMI AGENCY

EDMONTON -- David and Angela Forest are grateful their 10-year-old daughter Bryanna can once again get into her favourite sport.

Glenrose Hockey Nation, a therapeutic digital hockey game, is helping kids like Bryanna get better faster at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton.

It's a made-in-Edmonton solution. Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) students put hundreds of hours into its development, while Telus and Can-Am Geomatics funded the Kinect game.

A shy little girl of six, Bryanna blossomed when she started playing hockey.

"We didn't see how hockey and Bryanna fit -- she got on the ice and she's fearless," Angela said.

On July 19, everything changed.

The family from Shilo, Man., was on holiday in Edmonton when Bryanna was complaining of a headache. She was lethargic and eventually vomited. Given that it was a 30 C day, her parents thought she might have heat stroke and took her to emergency.

Doctors quickly diagnosed the problem as a brain bleed and four hours later, she was in surgery.

When she started physical therapy at the Glenrose, she couldn't walk and had trouble speaking.

Upon hearing there was a hockey game she could participate in, her eyes lit up.

Now she's progressed, increasing the difficulty by standing on a mat to simulate uneven surfaces.

"When she started her physio, she didn't like physio, we had to fight to go," her mother said.

Physical therapist Jessica da Costa said kids love Kinect games, but it starts at a level too difficult. Glenrose Hockey Nation is customizable, allowing kids to play in a wheelchair, harness or standing. The therapist can adjust speed, area of targets and difficulty as the patient progresses.

"It makes them want to come to therapy," she said.

When Bryanna is discharged, she and her mom will join the rest of the family in Halifax.

David said the family was lucky they were in Edmonton and to have the Glenrose.

"I don't want to think of where she would be if we were in (a) small town," he said, adding there aren't enough thank yous to repay saving Bryanna's life.

"There's no words to describe how thankful we are for the whole situation and most of all that we came to Edmonton and got the care she needed," Angela said, tearing up.

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