TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Virtual reality is more than just a three-dimensional image to Alabama's athletic training staff.
"One thing that drew us to virtual reality was coach Saban's attitude, wanting to be on the cutting edge in everything we do in every area. So we were thinking, 'what can we do differently to change the game a little bit in relation to rehab,'" said head football trainer Jeff Allen.
Allen and the Alabama training staff got the idea to use virtual reality in rehab in December and now after months of testing, Alabama has launched what they call Virtual Reality Rehab.
"We started using it about two or three weeks ago. There are a lot of schools that are using virtual reality for performance training but I don't know of any other schools that are using it in rehab," Allen said.
The 3D games have changed how Tide linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton rehabs his knee.
"It's a lot more fun. I mean, you don't just want to get on a foam cushion and sit there for 30-45 seconds when you can do this," Shaun Dion Hamilton said.
Alabama is using general virtual reality games and incorporating different rehab exercises.
"What we've been doing as a medical staff is trying to figure out a way that we can take those virtual reality games and incorporate different rehab exercises into those games that focus on balance, vision, and reaction time," said Allen.
"This allows us to take away their focus on whatever body part they've injured or are rehabbing and turning it into something else to focus on so when we transition to the game they can focus on what they have to do as a football player," said Alabama Director of Football Rehabilitation Jeremy Gsell.
As for Hamilton, who is expected to make a full return to the gridiron this fall after tearing his ACL in the 2016 SEC Championship game, he believes Virtual Reality Rehab is helping him focus more.
"It's definitely helping me I mean like I said, trusting it is everything and this is one thing that's been implemented that's helped me build trust back in my leg again," said Hamilton.
Alabama is one of the first universities to use virtual reality in rehab. So far, football is the only sport using the technique, but the Tide hope to use it in other sports in the future.