CRS faculty braves new frontiers in geriatric health care

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RAPID ageing has prompted new and creative approaches in healthcare and prevention strategy. This is why Thomasian physical therapist and academician, Donald Manlapaz, aims to bring into perspective an innovative way of getting everyone in tip-top shape through “Exergaming,” a combination of both exercise and gaming.

“As physical therapists, we promote an active lifestyle by encouraging individuals to be physically active by exercising. With the advent of virtual and augmented reality, I’m exploring its possible adherence to exercise since this can both be fun and motivating especially for patients,” Manlapaz said in an email.

The 31-year-old alumnus of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences is currently taking up his doctorate studies as a scholar in School of Physiotherapy in the University of Otago in New Zealand.

He has been in the spotlight mainly for his thesis, “The use of Nintendo Wii Fit™ in improving falls risk and adherence to exercise in patients with Knee Osteoarthritis,” a study about a degenerative disease affecting the aging population not only in the Philippines, but also in other countries.

“As age increases, the prevalence and incidence of falls also increase. Therefore, addressing balance as one of the risk factors for falls may help in lessening the occurrence,” he said.

This study served as Manlapaz’s tool in encouraging therapists in maximizing the benefits of assistive technological advancements in rehabilitation sciences, including the use of game console, Nintendo Wii Fit.

Nintendo Wii Fit is currently being used both for exercise and recreational purposes, most especially in yoga, aerobics, balance and endurance training and strength exercises. Being a functional gadget, it is highly recommended by therapists for both home therapy and clinical rehabilitation.

“Technology has invaded the rehabilitation domain. This idea prompted me to explore and investigate on the role of exergaming, in order to say that it is really effective,” he said.

Aside from being a scholar in the University of Otago, Manlapaz takes great pride in the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, calling it his home and comfort zone, after finishing his undergraduate studies with a degree in Physical Therapy back in 2006 and serving as the college’s secretary for three years from 2012 to 2015. He later on graduated cum laude and earned his master’s degree at the University’s Graduate School in 2015.

“My contribution for UST after obtaining my PhD will be in three-fold aspects: positively contributing in teaching and learning strategies, research productivity, and empowering my colleagues,” he said.

He has also presented many of his scholarly research on assistive technology and therapy in many conferences including the 6th Asia-Western Pacific Region Conference of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy, 12th International Conference for Asian Confederation for Physical Therapy at Taiwan in 2013, World Confederation of Physical Therapy in Amsterdam back in 2012 and 2011 and 7th Pan Pacific Conference on Rehabilitation in Hong Kong back in 2010.

Manlapaz has also been given numerous awards for his contribution to the rehabilitation field including a special citation as an Outstanding Professional in the field of Physical Therapy by the Professional Regulation Commission of the Philippines last year. Manlapaz also served as the vice president for internal affairs of the Philippine Physical Therapy Association from 2010 to 2012.

“The ride in this professional journey was not easy. It has always been a great experience to continue my research especially if there is a chance to study offshore. It was a turning point in my life when I decided to study here in New Zealand,” he said.

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