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January 23, 2020

Cooper becomes world's first hospital to use new virtual reality system for stroke patients

Adult Health Stroke
Cooper Virtual Reality Source/Cooper University Health Care

The Cooper Neurological Institute is the first rehabilitation center in the world to use the Penumbra Real Immersive System in the treatment of stroke patients.

A new wireless and mobile virtual reality system has been introduced for the first time to treat stroke victims at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, New Jersey.

California-based medical device producer Penumbra worked closely with a team of physicians and therapists at the Cooper Neurological Institute to develop a program for use of the REAL Immersive System.

The new VR system displays and tracks upper-extremity rehabilitation in interactive exercises for adult stroke patients. In a variety of virtual environments, patients are able to adjust their view simply by looking around. Hand controllers enable patients to move their avatar and interact with the virtual world.

“As an academic health system and a leading provider of advanced stroke and neurological services, we are committed to adding promising new treatment modalities to our complement of therapies,” said Tudor G. Jovin, chief of the Cooper Neurological Institute. "Virtual reality is an emerging new approach to treatment in stroke rehabilitation settings. We are proud of our role in the development of this new system and are excited to be the first hospital in the world to use it with our patients.”

With the Real Immersive System, therapists select games and monitor a patient's virtual activity, which requires the movement of limbs to complete tasks.

“The therapist watches the patient maneuver through the exercises on the tablet in real-time and can increase or decrease the level of difficulty of the activities depending on the patient’s progress,” said Dave Owens, director of rehabilitation services at Cooper. “The system monitors and securely records objective data for the patient’s record.”

With Penumbra's system, the Cooper Neurological Institute hopes to demonstrate a rehabilitation format that improves the patient experience and can be adopted more widely by other hospitals.

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