In honor of Stroke Awareness Month, the Rehabilitation Hospital of Montana (RHOM) in Billings hosted an open house event Tuesday evening to show the virtual reality and artificial intelligence technologies used with stroke patients as part of their physical therapy. 

Those who attended the event heard from multiple different speakers. Jennifer Wong, Vice President of Market Development for Penumbra Incorporated, was among the speakers. She talked about the company’s immersive rehabilitation product used by patients called the REAL y-Series. 

Wong says the REAL y-Series system uses customizable virtual reality technology to essentially “trick” patients making them feel like they are playing a game when they are actually working on their movement. The REAL y-Series focuses on overall wellness, cognition, and vision. The program also helps build fine motor skills, balance, and other functional tasks. These focuses are done in a way that makes it fun and interactive for the patient. 

Attendees were able to experience the robotics and virtual reality technologies firsthand by trying them out to see how patients use them. Several products showcased were from Bionik InMotion Robotics, which focuses on lower and upper extremity rehabilitation for stroke patients and others with mobile impairments. 

Bionik currently has three programs on the market using robotics to help restore motor control to the upper extremities. The InMotion Robots can also measure the patient’s level of impairment and report on their progress. Bionik also has four additional products that are currently in the developmental stage. 

RHOM is the state’s first inpatient rehabilitation hospital to use AI-powered robots and virtual reality for patient care. The rehab hospital is a tri-venture of Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare, and Lifepoint Health. The 34-bed rehabilitation center is devoted to providing the proper recovery and treatment care for those who have experienced a severe injury or illness that has left them physically impaired.