Rehab Goes Virtual

July 11, 2017

The athletic training staff for the University of Alabama football team has a new tool in their rehab arsenal—virtual reality. The 3-D games that are available through virtual reality are now changing how players work on rehab exercises.

“What we’ve been doing as a medical staff is trying to figure out a way that we can take those virtual reality games and incorporate different rehab exercises into those games that focus on balance, vision, and reaction time,” Jeff Allen, MS, ATC, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine and Head Football Athletic Trainer, told WBRC-FOX 6 News in Birmingham, Ala.


Getting started with virtual reality took months. After getting the idea, the medical staff spent time with testing before launching its virtual reality rehab.

“One thing that drew us to virtual reality was Coach [Nick] Saban’s attitude, wanting to be on the cutting edge in everything we do in every area,” said Allen. “So we were thinking, ‘What can we do differently to change the game a little bit in relation to rehab?’”

So far, the virtual reality technology is still new to the Alabama football staff, but already they believe they are ahead of the game when it comes to rehab.

“We started using it about two or three weeks ago,” said Allen. “There are a lot of schools that are using virtual reality for performance training, but I don’t know of any other schools that are using it in rehab.”

One of its advantages seems to be an added layer of interest from the student-athletes.

“This allows us to take away their focus on whatever body part they’ve injured or are rehabbing and [turn] it into something else to focus on, so when we transition to the game, they can focus on what they have to do as a football player,” said Jeremy Gsell, MA, LAT, ATC, Assistant Athletic Trainer and Director of Football Rehabilitation.

Linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton is one of the first members of the Tide to use 3-D games in his rehab. Hamilton tore his ACL in the 2016 Southeastern Conference Championship game and is expected to return to play in the fall.

“It’s definitely helping me,” said Hamilton. “I mean, like I said, trusting it is everything, and this is one thing that’s been implemented that’s helped me build trust back in my leg again.”

SEARCH for Products
SEARCH for Vendors

The Evolution of the Lifting Platform

The days of the above ground weightlifting platform may be a thing of the past. More and more high schools, colleges, and professional strength and conditioning facilities who are either building a new facility or renovating an existing facility are going away from the traditional above ground lifting platform and choosing the inlaid platform, which … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Teaching Principles: Neck Rotation

Coach Bill ‘Jake’ Jacobs goes back to the basic teaching principles with Neck Rotation. View his demonstration.  CLICK TO READ MORE...

RP Sports: Revolutionary Sports Technologies

RP Sport’s goal is to provide elite athletes with the most innovative sports technologies that push you past the peak of physical limits and into the future of athletic performance. Working  with ATs,  pro teams, elite athletes, physio therapists and more, RP takes pride in offering only the most safe & effective recovery, performance, rehab … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Firstbeat readies sleep-monitoring system

A lot of attention is being paid to recovery in athletes as part of efforts to help them reach their optimal performance. Much of this attention has focused on training loads, with numerous systems being developed to track this data. Now, attention is turning to the importance of sleep. As explained in a blog on … CLICK TO READ MORE...

Research Supports Use of Sway Medical Balance Assessment

A study involving 184 Division II male and female student-athletes concludes that the accessibility and ease of use of Sway Medical’s Concussion Management System Application makes it an effective and affordable tool for balance and postural stability assessments. “In today’s society, electronic devices are widely used, and the SMBA (Sway Medical Balance Application) is easily … CLICK TO READ MORE...


Stay at the Top of Your Game!
Receive articles like this by signing up for our newsletters