Mary Lou Beck sits in the car under the watchful eye of Scott Allsman, PTA.

ALTON – It may not be as flashy as the Batmobile, but a “car” is turning heads as the newest addition to Alton Memorial’s Human Motion Institute Rehabilitation Services.

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The Car Simulator WT-960 Tran-Sit allows patients receiving acute care to practice getting in and out of vehicles before being discharged to their homes.

“It is not uncommon for patients to have fear, anxiety, and sometimes pain getting into or out of a vehicle to go home,” said Sue Walker, PT, MBA, manager of Rehabilitation Services at AMH. “Many of our surgical patients go home same day or next day, particularly our total hips and total knees.”

Mary Lou Beck had both of her knees replaced at AMH and received physical and occupational therapy prior to the purchase of the new equipment. She knows first-hand the importance of practicing real-life situations before going home.

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“Entering and exiting a vehicle is certainly an area of concern if done improperly,” said Beck, who is a retired AMH employee. “When you have just been through surgery and your balance is somewhat impaired, it is important to practice proper techniques for all daily living activities.”

The “car” simulates a real-life experience. Staff can adjust the height to match the height of a patient’s vehicle, the steering wheel moves up and down, and the seats slide forward and backward.

“It is one more tool in an already fantastic tool box the department has assembled that enables patients to progress during the rehabilitation process,” said Beck.

The Human Motion Institute was able to purchase the “car” thanks to a grant from the White Cross Auxiliary.

“As the population of Baby Boomers ages, we all know how important it is to maintain our independence,” said Irene McLaughlin, president of the White Cross Auxiliary. “Many have to undergo hip or knee replacements, and this will give them the guidance and therapy to be able to get in and out of a vehicle again.”

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