East Tallinn Central Hospital, in cooperation with TalTech, will start using virtual reality in rehabilitation

28. June 2019

On June 20 at 12 p.m., East Tallinn Central Hospital (ETCH) and Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) presented the use of virtual reality in treating patients in rehabilitation.

In the presented virtual super market, patients with cognitive impairment, for example, caused by a stroke, can be assessed as well as be retaught the habit of shopping at the market.

The aim of this innovative approach is to help people and train them to be able to again handle daily activities after a serious illness. ‘Our mission is to help people who have suffered a severe condition, such as a stroke, and help them return to their daily lives even more effectively, so that they could grapple their lives on their own as well as possible,’ said Heidi Alasepp, the of the rehabilitation clinic of ETCH. ‘We as a hospital are entering a new era and a world of technological improvement, so that with TalTech engineers, we could find the best solutions that would help patients even more effectively in the future,’ Dr Alasepp said.

In Estonia, approximately 4,500 people have a stroke every year. Rehabilitation (physiotherapy and speech therapy) will begin as soon as the patient’s state allows for it. ‘Science-based medicine confirms that the more you move yourself and exercise, the better the recovery; the brain recovers when it is given assignments,’ Dr Allasepp said. Patients recover differently – some heal in mere weeks. In the case of persistent residual symptoms, the recovery process can take months and years, it is important to come to terms with the disability and aspire to live as complete a life as possible.

The innovative approach to rehabilitation is possible thanks to the cooperation between TalTech and ETCH which began last year, and is now furthered by the institution STIIMA-CNR of the National Research Council of Italy.

The aim of the international research development between engineers and medical workers is to find better technological solutions to support the healing process of patients in rehabilitation and to ensure a better quality of life after serious illnesses.
Tauno Otto, Professor at the School of Engineering at TalTech, confirms that the international collaboration in the two major disciplines is an important challenge for both TalTech as well as ETCH and will create research potential between the university and the hospital which, in the long run, ensures that contemporary rehabilitation will be even more accessible to patients.

In addition to virtual reality, the collaboration between TalTech and ETCH focuses on digitalisation and 3D technologies: for example, 3D-printed patient-based models obtained by CT scans have helped to prepare for difficult spine surgeries. This collaboration has also produced a 3D-printed anklebone made of medical titanium.
Technologically, the collaboration has been supported by investments by the Estonian Research Infrastructures Roadmap project ‘Smart Industry Centre’ (SmartIC) into additive manufacturing technology, computer tomography, and the digital technologies that connect them.

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