There is a 500 pound “car” parked at the Acute Rehabilitation Unit therapy academy at Peterson Regional Medical Center now, all for the benefit of patients recovering from strokes and other medical conditions, as they retrain their bodies to get in and out safely from a vehicle.
According to the therapists at the ARU academy, it may seem easy to anyone who is healthy. But strokes, plaster on broken bones and other medical problems change the way a person moves, turns and balances.
Enter the “car transfer simulator” or “Tran-Sit”.
And the reason this 48 x 60 inch steel box weighs so much is that it includes a “height adjustment system” underneath that allows therapists to closely compare the height of the car’s “seats” in the simulator with the actual vehicle. that each patient will be walking or driving.
Steve Zirkel, an ARU therapist, says they can adjust the hydraulic lift to meet the needs of each patient, whether he or a family member drives a compact car, small or large SUV or a tall truck. “I ask the patient or a family member what type of vehicle the patient needs to get in and out of, so I know when the simulator needs to be adjusted,” said Zirkel.
According to the source company, this simulator allows each patient to learn and practice car transfer skills in the comfort and safety of a clinical environment.
It has realistic vehicle parts, including two functional doors with handles and locks, shell seats with seat belts and “front-rear adjustment”, tilt steering column, panel and metal tube structures in the shape of the frame’s contour. door and where the windows would be on the doors.
The goal is to provide a safe and convenient alternative to “parking” transfer training.
Last week, ARU patient Idanell Schuessler of Llano was practicing getting in and out of the simulator as she was scheduled to be discharged on Easter Sunday to go home in her daughter’s vehicle.
“I still have trouble lifting my legs and I have to do it right to get in her car and come back when I get home. I’ve been nervous about it, ”she said.
So, with physiotherapist Samantha Amisano, Schuessler practiced all the steps again last Friday – using his walker, back in the car seat; place your right hand on the seat; sit on the seat while lowering your head below the doorframe; turn on the seat while lifting your legs into the car.
Then open the door and reverse the steps to get out of the car.
“I have been practicing this in my head so I can do it on Sunday,” she said, “step back, put your hand on the seat, sit in the saddle, get down, turn around and lift your legs.”
Schuessler said his daughter has a Suburban, but she was coming in a small SUV to pick her up.
Schuessler was living on a ranch near Llano and was driving a truck. But she also owns two houses in Llano that she was renting as an inn; and planned to move to one of them to continue his recovery.
“Driving for real is far from me. I know I was taking it for granted. Now I am excited to go home, but I’m scared, ”said Schuessler.
Zirkel said that each patient has a different type and height of vehicle. And this simulator is good training for patients with a variety of medical problems, including hip or knee fractures, and also for their families.
“We have had this car simulator since February and it has been used mainly for patients in the Rehabilitation Unit, including some here for knee and hip prostheses. It is also for use by people with neurological diseases, Parkinson’s and amputee patients, ”he said.
“We practice with patients’ real cars, if they are available,” said Zirkel. “The simulator allows them to practice here as needed. And sometimes it takes one or two people to help the patient on the driver’s side of the ‘car’ too. Most patients would enter the passenger side. “
The related skills that patients in the Acute Rehabilitation Unit also practice include getting in and out of bed, getting up from a sitting position to stand, getting out of the bathroom, getting in and out of the shower, and walking on various surfaces, including level, to up and down, slopes and ramps, stairs and uneven surfaces.
Zirkel said that another thing he would like to add is some kind of scenic “view” on the wall in front of the “car”, since the team of several men who brought him to the gym installed him with the front facing an empty space of White wall. (But this is because the hydraulic lifting mechanism is at the rear end.)