The introduction last month of a state-of-the-art multimedia physical treatment center in Taipei called Smart Ambience has taken the drudgery out of physical rehabilitation, some users said.
“I was amazed when I first set foot in the center,” said Liu Yu-yuan, a 51-year-old mastectomy patient.
The aesthetics include walls of aquariums with tropical fish swimming around and colorful bottles that are meant to produce a healing and calming effect on the mind.
The center offers six different rehabilitation training programs that feature LEDs, sensors and newly developed software.
Patients can go through a one-hour exercise routine that is based on high-end computer technology and is tailored to individual needs, all free of charge.
In the diaphragmatic breathing program, for example, a sensor band attached to the patient tells the therapist whether or not the exercise is being done correctly, said Chen Shu-chun (陳淑君), a nurse at the Taiwan Breast Cancer Foundation (TBCF), which founded the center.
“To help the patients relax, we have an overhead projector that displays videos of a figure doing breathing exercises in a forest to soft relaxing music,” Chen said.
The forest scene turns into a night sky with stars that brighten or dim depending how deeply the patient breathes during the exercise, she said.
Diaphragmatic breathing can calm the mind, Chen said, adding that this is a state most cancer patients find quite difficult to achieve.
At the center, patients can also concentrate fully on the rehabilitation routines since the space is used by one person at a time, with an assigned therapist offering assistance, she said.
“When I can’t fall asleep at home, I picture the forest and practice the breathing method I learned here,” Liu said.
“Although I knew the breathing method before, my technique was wrong. The therapist corrected me and demonstrated it for me, which was nice and thoughtful,” Liu said.
The center, a brainchild of TBCF and National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Networking and Multimedia (GINM), took two years to complete.
Hung Yi-ping (洪一平), a GINM professor and leading researcher, said that the biggest challenge facing the project was the synchronization and integration of the multimedia resources.
“There was a lot of trial and error. Sometimes we had to toss out what we had done and build something better,” Hung said.
The project experience was presented at an international conference in Italy last year, he said.