Virtual Reality Training to Increase Rehabilitative Exercise in Seniors


Today’s episode is a discussion with the project team for an initiative on the use of virtual reality in independent homes and residences and its ability to increase rehabilitative training in senior populations.

We’re all aging, and everyone’s talking about it!

Key Takeaways

[:40] Jenna welcomes today’s guests, Dr. Lisa Sheehy, Affiliate Investigator at Bruyère Research Institute in partnership with the Centre for Innovation and Research in Aging (CIRA); as well as the CIRA team, Lalita Bharadwaj, Research Coordinator, Kelsey Nissen, Research Therapist, and Justine Henry, Executive Director of CIRA.

[1:30] What is the Centre for Innovation and Research in Aging and what do they do? Justine Henry shares the breadth of work that CIRA has undertaken.

[2:51] Dr. Lisa Sheehy shares how this VR initiative was launched as well as the inspiration for the project to assess the Impact of adding home-based virtual reality exercise to maintain or improve physical conditioning in seniors living in long-term care facilities or seniors living independently in their homes.

[4:54] Dr. Lisa Sheehy touches on the challenges that seniors requiring rehabilitative exercises range from motivation to access as well as how the VR initiative palliates these.

[9:39] Kelsey Nissen explains the outcomes that this project is expecting as well as the way the VR tech works, how the participants engage with the apparatus and the types of exercises that are programmed into the routines. She also touches on the role caregivers play in the program.

[14:00] Lalita speaks about how the project also works in collaboration with the New Brunswick Extra-Mural program. She also talks about the other four community partners.

[15:45] Cost is often brought up when it comes to adding tech into a care program, Lalita explains that this initiative is currently free both for the program and the equipment required. She does add a caveat, would this program come to be available commercially.

[17:57] The level of success already measured in this project is substantial, Justine speaks to the future!

[20:29] Jenna thanks the entire research team for coming on the podcast. Until next time, subscribe, rate, and share!

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Mentioned in this episode
The MileAGE Podcast
Healthy Seniors Pilot Project Program
Bruyère Continued Care
Bruyère Research Institute
Centre for Innovation and Research in Aging
York Care Center in New Brunswick
Extra-Mural Program

More about your hosts
Jenna Roddick at APPTA
Jenna Roddick on Twitter
Jenna Roddick on LinkedIn

More about today’s guest
Find out more about the entire team on the CIRA website.

Lisa Sheehy is a physiotherapist who has worked in hospital and private clinic settings, including in geriatric and neurological rehabilitation. After working for 12 years she returned to school and completed her MSc and PhD in Rehabilitation Science at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. Lisa has worked at Bruyère Research Institute in Ottawa, Ontario, since 2014, first as a postdoctoral fellow, and now as an Affiliate Investigator. Her primary research areas include the use of non-immersive virtual reality for rehabilitation, telerehabilitation, the use of rehabilitative exercise for recovery from stroke, illness or injury, and the use of technology to assist in aging in place.

Lalita Bharadwaj is working as the research coordinator for this VR project at CIRA. She holds a Bachelor of Science and Psychology Degree with a minor in Anthropology from the University of Calgary, Alberta. She is currently completing her Master’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of New Brunswick. Through CIRA, she hopes to expand her understanding of medical research and positively contribute to the collective knowledge of our rapidly aging population and improve their quality of life.

Kelsey Nissen is working on the VR project as the Research Therapist. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, followed by her Doctor of Chiropractic degree at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, in Toronto. She is in the process of completing her Master’s degree in Applied Health Services Research through the University of New Brunswick in association with the Atlantic Regional Training Centre. She is a practicing chiropractor with research interests in healthy aging, musculoskeletal health and function, rehabilitation, knowledge transfer, and clinical best practice guidelines.

Justine Henry, Executive Director of CIRA, has an Honors Degree in Psychology from Mount Allison University (’10), a Diploma in Health Wellness and Recreation from Eastern College (’12), and a Master of Science in Kinesiology from the University of New Brunswick (’19). Previously, she has worked as a researcher in many fields including behavioral psychology, adulthood and aging, chronic pain, and human sexuality. More recently, Justine completed her Lean Six Sigma training and is a certified Green Belt. She is currently completing the Excellence in Healthcare Leadership Program through Saskatchewan’s Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.