Occupational Therapist Joan Channer works with Alana Horton on the new
Bioness Integrated Therapy System at Marcus Daly Hospital’s Rehabilitation
Center. Alana’s mother Shyea Bowles said that the new machine could
help her daughter quit bumping into things and give her a greater degree
of independence. Michael Howell photo.
As part of its efforts to reach out to all of Western Montana, the foundation
for Community Health, in Missoula, has reached into Ravalli County with
a $10,000 grant to the Daly Hospital Foundation for the purchase of a
state-of-the-art tool called a Bioness Integrated Therapy System, known
as BITS for short.
The new system has a wide range of beneficial uses. It can be used to enhance
eye-hand coordination, improve peripheral vision, build cognitive endurance
and memory recall, and increase visual search and scanning abilities,
to name a few. In all, it offers 24 unique therapy programs and standardized
customizable features designed to enhance physical therapy, occupational
therapy, and speech therapy outcomes.
BITS therapy can be used by patients of any age who are experiencing visual
field loss, visual-spatial neglect, and visual-vestibular integration
problems, rhythmicity, problem solving and cognitive challenges.
Last week, Foundation for Community Health Executive Director Dorcie Dvarishkis
and board member Ramona Holt paid a visit to Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital’s
Rehabilitation Center to see how things were going.
They got to meet one of the first to benefit from the new machine, young
Alana Horton, and her mother Shylea Bowles. Alana suffers from a visual
impairment called visual-spatial neglect in which a part of her visual
field does not get properly inspected. During a demonstration last week,
Alana performed various tasks on the large touch-screen in front of her.
The BITS program was able to discern and highlight the objects on the
screen that were being visually neglected. Training sessions can then
be devised to address the areas of neglect.
“It will be nice to have her not bumping into things,” said
her mother, Shylea. “It’s awesome to have this here,”
she added. It is one of only two in the state. The other is in Bozeman.
The therapists at the Rehabilitation Center are excited about the system
as well. Physical Therapist and Department Head Pete Dunn said that the
system provides an easy way to objectively measure a person’s abilities
and then work to improve them.
Dunn estimated that a third of the patients at Marcus Daly could benefit
from the use of BITS. Because it is a mobile unit and can be wheeled around,
he said, it could be taken right to the bedside of a patient who has suffered
a stroke and begin cognitive therapy right away. He said it can be used
at the track in the Rehab Center to measure visual reaction times and
other performance parameters including automaticity, contrast sensitivity,
plus visual and auditory sequencing and memory.