Beyond an injury

Invacare leverages virtual reality to put providers and patients in driver’s seat
Friday, April 8, 2016

ELYRIA, Ohio – Maegen Hurtado says the look on their faces said it all.

At the recent International Seating Symposium, Invacare had on hand a pair of Samsung virtual reality goggles loaded with videos, allowing users to sit in the driver’s seat for a 360-degree view of Team Invacare athlete and paralympian Paul Schulte navigating a Top End Force Rx Handcycle through Clearwater Beach, Fla.

“I don’t think one person walked away not excited,” said Hurtado, digital marketing manager at Invacare. “To see their expressions, to see them using their arms like they were hand cycling, to see them look right at the beautiful water and up at the sun—it was such a rewarding experience for everyone involved.”

Two other VR videos feature Charlie Mosbrook, a para-triathlete, in a ROVI X3 power wheelchair with Motion Concepts power positioning at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens and in an Invacare TDX SP2 power wheelchair at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Hurtado says she knew she wanted to experiment with VR when it kept popping up in her Facebook feed. The stars aligned when Think Media Studios, a creative video and event production company in Mayfield Heights that she worked with on other digital marketing projects, was featured in a story about VR on a local news website.

“It’s definitely creating a buzz,” she said. “We hadn’t seen VR being used anywhere else in the industry, and we wanted to jump on it and take advantage of it.”
But Hurtado says it’s potentially far more than buzz for HME providers who work with patients who need wheelchairs.

“There are so many different opportunities that can be leveraged with VR,” she said. “It’s a great tool, for example, for in-service and training.”

Maybe most importantly, however, the technology helps Invacare and its HME provider customers send a strong message about what it’s like to be in a wheelchair, Hurtado says.

“I think No. 1, it’s definitely an inspirational, feel-good technology,” she said. “We had the opportunity to visit Craig Hospital in Colorado and when we sat down with patients, we really got to see the challenges of a newly injured person. They’re thinking, ‘What else is there for me?’ This gives them hope that there is something beyond their injury.”