Virtual rehabilitation technology helps local stroke patient



Posted on December 17, 2013 at 8:15 AM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 17 at 6:42 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.– Dan Kemnitz has had to learn to walk again at 66 years old.
Two months ago, he told his wife that he didn’t feel well and was going to bed.
“The second time he said that it sounded like he’d had Novocaine,” Kemnitz’s wife, Linda, said.
She called 9-1-1 and paramedics confirmed Kemnitz had a stroke. He went into emergency surgery. For the past month and a half, he has been living at ManorCare’s MedBridge rehabilitation unit. When he first arrived, he couldn’t walk. But with the help of his ManorCare occupational therapist, Sara Speller, and a new virtual rehabilitation system known as the OmniVR, Kemnitz is making great strides.
The OmniVR system looks as if Kemnitz is playing a simple video game, but it is actually very high-tech. It uses an infrared camera to see the user’s body, so all they have to do is move their arms and legs to interact with the game.
Speller can easily change the components of each activity to hone in on exactly what she wants Kemnitz to work on.
“I just love working with Dan,” Speller said. “He’s a lot of fun. He’s come an extremely long way since he got here. Where, he first got here he wouldn’t have been physically capable of doing this machine at all. And now he’s just a star.”
“We all learn in different ways and this seems to really be keying in to the best way for him,” Kemnitz’s wife, Linda, said.
Through each task on the OmniVR, Kemnitz’s brain is reconnecting the processes it knew so well before the stroke. Every day, there is progress.
“All the time,” Kemnitz said. “All the time.”
Kemnitz will continue to recover at MedBridge in Spokane until he gets to the point where he no longer needs supervision. But because of how far he has already come, he will get to spend Christmas Day out of the center, with family.
Last Friday, Kemnitz attended his first Late Great Chevy car club meeting since his stroke. He is the club president.