Kids receiving care at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital have a new high-tech program to help them recover.

The new technology in the hospital’s Oilers Interactive Learning Centre will feature play-based therapeutic activities to help pediatric patients interact, rebuild skills and strengthen abilities.

“What this centre allows us to do is take advantage of kids’ natural instinct to play and use some technology that is engaging,” said Quentin Ranson, an occupational therapist with the Glenrose.

“The kids end up playing longer, harder and more often, and those are three key factors to getting physical recovery.”

Eleven-year-old Ethan Lockwood was the first to test out one of the new games called ‘Smash-up Derby.’

Lockwood suffered a traumatic brain injury last year, after a street hockey game when he fell in a bush and a twig pierced his eye.

He says the new technology is helping his motor skills.

“It’s helped me with a range of motion in my arm,” Lockwood said.

“It makes you reach up a lot.”

The Oil centre features four large, flat-screen TVs with digital overlays that allow children to interact directly with the screen while they play games, paint pictures or play music.

There’s a specially-designed tilting table top that allows patients to interact with the flat-screen TV while in a wheelchair or laying on their stomach.

A Kinect-like system captures body movements through motion-sensors allowing children to interact in a virtual environment.

There are also specialized robotics tables, a series of controllers, and a harness system that supports patients’ weight.

All the new technology is expected to help kids with motor skills, thinking skills and social skills, and allow hospital staff to measure improvements.

“We can also measure their performance over time,” Ranson said.

“How many times did they smash up the car? How long did they last? How quick was their arm movement? It gives us and the kids some objective data and feedback on how much their improving.”

Lockwood has made great strides towards recovery.

“I think most of it was the help of my therapist and the technology at the Glenrose,” Lockwood said. “I have had to do a lot of therapy.”

The Oil Centre is an extension to the Glenrose’s Building Trades of Alberta Courage Centre, which opened in 2010.