Improved Physiology and Psychosocial Well-Being for Individuals with Physical Disabilities through Virtual Reality Immersion: a Case Study

  • Bethany Fralish
  • Megan NickelsEmail author
  • Jeanette Garcia


The purpose of this case study was to examine the physiological and psychosocial effects of an immersive virtual reality (VR) system in a female, young adult with physical disabilities. Mixed-methods. University, City, State, USA. The current study consisted of six sessions over a span of three weeks, with each session lasting approximately 45 min. Physiological factors (upper body mobility, heart rate variability) were assessed via a hand use questionnaire and a heart rate monitor, while psychosocial factors (e.g. positive mood) were assessed through post-session debriefing discussions with the participant. All measures were completed at each of the six VR sessions, with the exception of the hand use questionnaire, which was administered at baseline, and post-intervention. The VR programs selected were specifically chosen to engage upper body and arm movements. Descriptive analyses and coding of interviews were conducted to examine changes throughout the study sessions. The participant reported an increase in hand mobility and psychosocial well-being, such as improvement in mood, as a result of her participation in the VR sessions. The results of this preliminary case study suggest that the use of movement-specific VR programs may be beneficial to individuals with physical disabilities, although future research in larger samples is warranted.


Virtual reality Physical disabilities Activities of daily living Psychosocial well-being Technology 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Teacher Education, College of Community Innovation and EducationUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
  2. 2.STEM Education, School of Teacher Education, College of Community Innovation and EducationUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
  3. 3.School of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy, College of Health Professions andSciencesUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

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