The Future Of High-Tech Rehabilitation

One White Plains neuroscientist takes physical therapy into the 21st century.

At Burke Medical Research Institute in White Plains, clinicians and scientists are working together to develop and improve cutting-edge technology for patients throughout Westchester. Dr. David Putrino, the Director of Telemedicine and Virtual Rehabilitation with a PhD in neuroscience, is leading the way.

Putrino is the chief medical officer of GesTherapy, a company that works on motion-capture physical therapy, and a volunteer with Not Impossible Labs, which is exploring using 3D printing to make prosthetic limbs. He hopes to use these experiences, along with his past as a physical therapist, to create helpful gadgetry that he hopes will change the nature of physical rehabilitation

Unlike regular rehabilitation, telerehabilitation uses technology to allow clinicians and patients to communicate at all times. “The most important element of telerehabilitation is engagement,” Dr. Putrino says, explaining that constant monitoring of a patient’s condition can be crucial to long-term recovery. With that in mind, Burke Medical Research Institute has begun to develop uses for low-cost tablets that allow for doctors to be constantly engaged with their patients. Using software and devices that can be easily found in stores like Microsoft Kinect, Putrino and his colleagues are bolstering clinicians’ ability to stay on top of their patients’ progress and daily activities.

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While this new approach to physical rehabilitation is taking off at Burke, Dr. Putrino hopes that it will become more widespread over time. He insists that these new technologies can be essential not only in treating ailments, but also for assuring overall health. “This is about wellness—it’s not about treating disease,” he says. “The long-term dream is to use these technologies to constantly remind people that their health is important.”

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