Virtual Reality, Real Results: The Power of C.A.R.E.N for Recovery


Meeting the needs of soldiers wounded in the line of duty is always a priority. After all, these wounded warriors have put their lives on the line for their country, and they deserve the best chance possible for comprehensive recovery. While there are many new technologies that can serve this select group of individuals, one of the most exciting advancements is the computer-assisted research environment.

Understanding C.A.R.E.N

The concept of a computer-assisted research environment is most commonly referred to as C.A.R.E.N. Computers have been used in many medical contexts, but in this treatment plan, the computer is used to create a virtual reality.
The advanced technology relies on motion capture to better document the moves of the participant, and the surrounding area is equipped to be responsive to the needs of the virtual environment. This means that the ground can shift for inclines and declines, creating a more realistic sensation. The process is further enhanced with visual and sound elements in the enclosure, allowing for a complete immersion into the simulated environment.

The Advantage of C.A.R.E.N

With other treatment options available, many people may wonder why a virtual reality solution is beneficial. The answer is two-fold. For the patient, the virtual reality environment provides a more stimulating recovery process that can be refined according to each patient’s needs. Moreover, C.A.R.E.N is a more engaging treatment option.
Since it provides a virtual reality, patients can activate their minds in new ways. Sometimes, this shift in mindset can have a profound impact on the patient’s recovery.

Some of the things that can be practiced in C.A.R.E.N are listed below.

  • Reactive balance
  • Reaction time
  • Muscle activation
  • Stability
  • More

The benefits are also extended to the rehabilitation team. By tracking the patient’s movements in the environment, it is possible to see how his or her body is responding. This encourages timely data collection, which allows for treatment modifications as needed. In this manner, C.A.R.E.N can also serve a diagnostic purpose, tracking a stunning array of kinetic and biomechanical information. This wealth of information can be used to make superior treatment decisions for the patient.

Assessing Eligibility for C.A.R.E.N

C.A.R.E.N has been widely used to help soldiers who have suffered blast injuries in the field. This can include spinal injury, traumatic brain injury or amputation. All of these medical conditions require rehabilitation to regain normal movement. These are the soldiers who can benefit from C.A.R.E.N the most.

There are other considerations when assessing a patient’s viability for C.A.R.E.N. Other factors:

Age: Younger patients are most likely to benefit from the intensive nature of C.A.R.E.N.
Fitness level: Due to the interactive approach of C.A.R.E.N, patients should be in good health overall.
Emotional wellness: C.A.R.E.N stimulates the mind and body, which is why psychological evaluation should be included in the process.

Availability of C.A.R.E.N

Due to the good outcomes associated with C.A.R.E.N, many military treatment facilities now have these devices. This means that most soldiers who are wounded have access to this tool for their recovery.

With such promising results in the military, civilian treatment centers have started to work with C.A.R.E.N as well. This means that someday everyone may have access to this revolutionary recovery process.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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