Sailing Simulator for Spinal Cord Injury Patients

The Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland announced in November that the results of their study showed that a sailing simulator improved the results of patients with spinal cord injuries. The researchers theorized that because of the study’s success, that this therapeutic stimulation could be used to help people with brain injuries or lost limbs.
At ONE Brain and Spine Center, we have brought two specialties together to better care for patients with spinal cord injuries. Whether an injury has left the patient paralyzed or unable to complete their normal responsibilities, Dr. Burak Ozgur works to come up with the best treatment plan possible. Patients in Irvine or nearby California area can easily access ONE Brain and Spine Center for their brain and/or spine condition.
Published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, the study was supported by the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Melbourne, Australia, and by Kennedy Krieger Institute’s International Center for Spinal Cord Injury. The article said that over a 12- week period, participants learned hands-on sailing skills in a safe environment where they were able to participate in a highly rigorous recreational sport. Participants were not only learning muscle control and strength, but simultaneously building self-confidence.
The study’s author and physician in the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger Institute, Dr. Albert Recio says, “Sports and recreation are a very important component of the rehabilitation process, not only for general physical well-being, but for improving overall quality of life for patients who have sustained spine cord injuries.”
The software of the simulation system requires participants to navigate the boat through a virtual path. The program gives the participants feedback and allows them to control water conditions, wind strength, and alter their movements.
One of ONE’s core goals is to give patients a sense of accomplishment. After a devastating injury such as an SCI, learning cognitive and physical behaviors can be greatly disheartening. This first of it’s kind sailing simulator allows gives patients something to look forward to rather than a mundane rehabilitation routine.
The study lasted six months. After each sailing session, a therapist examined numerous physical and neurologic indicators, measuring them to the assessment prior to the training program. At the beginning and end of the study, the participants filled out a self-esteem questionnaire.
At the end, the researchers concluded that the patients had significant improvements in overall quality of life, increased self-confidence, and higher sense of accomplishment. The sailing simulation gave patients a sense of optimism for the future roadblocks that they may have to overcome.
For more information on the virtual sailing simulator, visit To learn what treatment options ONE Brain and Spine Center can offer you for your spinal cord injury, contact a staff member today.
ONE Brain & Spine Center is the premier spine and brain center in Irvine, California, offering minimally invasive spine surgeries and minimally invasive orthopedic surgeries. For more information or to make an appointment, please call (949) 383-4190.
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

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