The Trazer launches users into an interactive virtual world in which on-screen activities are driven by the user’s reaction time, acceleration, speed, power and balance. WITH VIDEO AND SIDEBAR
Enjoying morning coffee July 3 on the deck of a Lake Mohawk retreat, Emily Caniford, her husband, Tom, and brother and sister-in-law were looking forward to the arrival of extended family. A holiday picnic was the plan. In an instant, everything changed. Caniford, 45, leaned back on the deck railing. It gave way, and she fell 12 feet onto a concrete slab. In the Mercy Medical Center emergency department, doctors determined her left femur (thigh bone) and both patellas (kneecaps) were broken. After surgery that included placement of a titanium rod in her thigh followed by eight days in the hospital, Caniford was sent to her North Canton home in leg immobilizers, brace-like devices. The immobilizers, which remained in place for six weeks, prevented her from bending her knees. She moved stiff-legged with the help of a walker. When the immobilizers were removed, Caniford, on leave from her job as director of administration and support service at the Stark County Health Department, began in-home physical therapy. The mother of two had been a runner, she said, acknowledging that her activity level no doubt helped during rehabilitation. “Finally, I moved to using crutches and could be allowed to start bending my knees. I learned to use the crutches to go up and down stairs. I hadn’t seen my second floor in so long,” she said jokingly. Then for seven weeks, she went to the Mercy Sports Medicine Center in North Canton for more active physical therapy. Her arrival there coincided with the center’s receipt of a new piece of exercise and therapy equipment, the Cybex Trazer. Caniford’s physical therapist, Ken Shearer, already was a fan, having seen it in use during a clinical internship. Shearer devised a 15-minute program three times a week for his patient. It increased in difficulty as she regained strength. “We challenged her balance, her ability to know where she is in space,” Shearer said. “It’s like a software program on a computer,” Caniford explained, who wore a belt with sensors while using it. “As I go through each activity, I see myself on the screen.” The Trazer launches users into an interactive virtual world in which on-screen activities are driven by the user’s reaction time, acceleration, speed, power and balance. “I was receptive to trying anything that was trying to help me get my life back,” Caniford recalled. “And it was a nice departure from the traditional machines used for physical therapy. I had fun doing it.” Caniford returned to work part-time two weeks ago. The pain and stiffness, she said, are receding slowly. She hopes to resume a regular fitness program in the coming weeks. “I knew I had to have a positive attitude going into this,” she said last week. “I just kept thinking, this could have been so much worse.” Reach Diana Rossetti at (330) 580-8322 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO ELSE CAN CYBEX TRAZER HELP? “There are so many applications for the Trazer,” said Eldon Jones, director of sports medicine and health and fitness at Mercy Sports Medicine Center in North Canton. “From seniors down to the Little League athlete, that’s the beauty of it. There’s the infra-red sensor on the belt you wear and the beam is sent back to the computer. It knows where you are in relationship to the machine. As you move, it moves in sync.” Able to measure speed, jump height, and how long it takes the user to get from one point to another, the Trazer also can be programmed with a game format that is especially attractive to children. “You can make the exercise a game with a score. You’re on a grid and if you don’t get to a grid spot quick enough, you fall through a trap door (on the screen). Kids don’t know they’re getting anything but entertainment,” Jones explained. Effective for rehabilitation on hips, thighs, knees and ankles, Trazer also assists seniors with gait and stability concerns. “If someone is at risk for falling because of osteoporosis, maybe, then this can work on the preventative side of that. And it’s just as dramatic in helping a football player with a knee ligament repair. To get back in the game, he needs to work on cuts, agility and jumping ability,” added Jones. Interactive technology, the use of computers and animation in rehabilitation and exercise therapy, “is exploding,” Jones said. “It’s amazing. There is a bike now similar to this. You sit on it and as you ride and hold on to the handlebars, you steer it on a road on the screen. You watch the video and when there’s a bend in the road, you have to turn the handlebars.”