Editor’s Note: The 2020 winners of the McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards are being announced Sept. 29 to Oct. 6. Skilled Care track winners are being announced here by McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. Senior Living track winners are being announced on the website of sister publication McKnight’s Senior Living.

Four years ago, Rocky Knoll Health Care Center invested in a device that uses vibration to reduce atrophy and pain in low-mobility patients receiving therapy.

The county-owned skilled nursing facility in Plymouth, WI, continues to use its VibeTech equipment in that capacity, but it is now working closely with the manufacturer to develop and measure the effectiveness of modified versions meant to serve other resident populations.

For its research-based efforts, Rocky Knoll is a Gold winner in the 2020 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards in the Skilled Care track’s Innovator of the Year category.

In 2018, staff created a pilot to study how well memory care residents would tolerate the device, which imparts low-intensity vibrations tuned to contract muscles in the legs and low back to simulate standing and walking. That led to a Quality Assurance and Performance Initiative. In 2019, data showed a 45% reduction in falls over a three-month treatment period versus the previous three months.

Rocky Knoll then received a grant to develop the portable VibeSitPRO, which uses the same technology without requiring residents to transfer from a wheelchair to get the benefits. A prototype is being tested now in conjunction with VibeTech and local aging, dementia and Alzheimer’s organizations.

“If successful, this multisite, cross-continuum of care approach will be replicated in cities across the country to reduce falls and improve the quality of life for one of the most critically underserved populations,” Rocky Knoll Administrator Kayla Clinton wrote in her entry. “The new technology can be administered not just by therapists, nursing staff, and life enrichment staff, but more importantly it will be able to be operated by loved ones and other non-professional caregivers … from the comfort of the end user’s favorite chair or their wheelchair.”

Residents also like using the technology, and staff members are eager to increase the numbers able to participate, says Life Enrichment Director Janine Bolz.

“When residents are invited to work on the device, they are excited to participate and to see how it can make them feel stronger and increase their confidence regarding their abilities,” Bolz told McKnight’s. “Some of the residents involved not only work out with the Vibe Tech machine, but also have requested independent work out times with the Therapy Department.”

Other Innovator of the Year awards in the Skilled Care track:

  • Silver: New Jersey-based CareOne uses Rex, a hands-free robotic rehab device that promotes early mobility and weight bearing, and Obi, a robotic arm that encourages independent self-feeding.
  • Bronze: Health PEI, the single health authority of Prince Edward Island, Canada, implemented the Rendever virtual reality platform in its long-term care homes and is beta testing the new Connection Corner, which allows residents to interact with each other’s avatars in a virtual living room.

Competition entries were submitted earlier this year and judged by an independent panel of skilled care and senior living experts and industry professionals.Stanley Healthcare is the Platinum sponsor of the 2020 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards. MatrixCare is the Gold sponsor for the Senior Living track.