University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s first to use Augment Therapy in a hospital setting to enhance outcomes of physical therapy

Monday, November 15, 2021

The program began as a Pediatric Innovation Day winner; now expanding to patients in the hospital thanks to a generous grant from the Carson Higgins Memorial Foundation

University Hospitals (UH) Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital is the nation’s first children’s hospital to use Augment Therapy, a new treatment option for physical therapists helping to get patients excited about physical activity.
A generous grant from the Carson Higgins Memorial Foundation supported the technology and hardware installation in all 21 patient rooms within the Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute at UH Rainbow and the pediatric activity room and the teen lounge within the Andrew Uhrman Inpatient Unit at Angie’s Institute. The grant also supported two mobile carts, to give physical therapists the freedom to take Augment Therapy to the Angie’s Institute outpatient floor and other UH Rainbow floors.
Augment Therapy is designed to engage, motivate and monitor kids needing therapeutic exercise. Using an iPad connected to a TV, the patient is placed into an interactive world through the magic of Augmented Reality (AR).  Therapists select from 35 different therapeutic exercises, games, and 3D worlds that motivate and engage kids to complete their session.  Patients’ performance is monitored and tracked using the depth-sensing technology on compatible iPhone or iPad devices.
“It really offers something for everyone, from our preschoolers to our adolescent and young adult patients,” Elizabeth (Betsy) Hockey, PT, physical therapy and clinical specialist at UH Rainbow. “Some kids love to move all over the place while others just want to walk through a virtual world. It’s great because there are two player options so the parents can get involved as well. Our hope is that when kids come in we can introduce them to the program, pick out specific activities that are appropriate for them to get started, and then they can use it whenever they are up to it since it’s in their room. This will allow them to exercise more consistently and on their own time.”
“Maintaining physical and mental health through thoughtful exercise is especially important for cancer patients, as they are often limited to their rooms for days and weeks at a time while undergoing treatment. We are excited to be able to offer these young patients 24/7 access to our exercise-based gaming software during their stay,” says Lindsay Watson, CEO of Augment Therapy and a former pediatric physical therapist.
Debbie and John Higgins started the Carson Higgins Memorial Foundation in 2017, one year after losing their son, Carson, to cancer. While Carson was never treated at UH Rainbow, Debbie and John, who live in Northeast Ohio, heard about UH Rainbow’s Angie’s Institute through friends whose children had been treated there.
“We were so excited when we heard about Augment Therapy and the opportunity to expand it at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital,” said John. “When Carson needed physical therapy, he had to ride a stationary bike and he was so bored. Something like this, which kids actually want to do, makes it so much easier. This grant has the potential to effect so many children and families in such a positive way.”
“This gift will allow Augment Therapy to grow and blossom and I hope leads to more pediatric hospitals adopting this technology,” said Debbie. “To make a difference in a child’s life is so important to us and allows us to carry on Carson’s legacy of kindness, paying it forward and helping others.”

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