Virtual Reality Applications in Rehabilitation
One of the most valuable applications of virtual reality (VR) is in the domain of rehabilitation. After brain injuries or diseases, many patients suffer from impaired physical and/or cognitive capabilities, such as difficulties in moving arms or remembering names. Over the past two decades, VR has been tested and examined as a technology to assist patients’ recovery and rehabilitation, both physical and cognitive. The increasing prevalence of low-cost VR devices brings new opportunities, allowing VR to be used in practice. Using VR devices such as head-mounted displays (HMDs), special virtual scenes can be designed to assist patients in the process of re-training their brain and reorganizing their functions and abilities. However, such VR interfaces and applications must be comprehensively tested and examined for their effectiveness and potential side effects. This paper presents a review of related literature and discusses the new opportunities and challenges. Most of existing studies examined VR as an assessment method rather than a training/exercise method. Nevertheless, promising cases and positive preliminary results have been shown. Considering the increasing need for self-administered, home-based, and personalized rehabilitation, VR rehabilitation is potentially an important approach. This area requires more studies and research effort.
KeywordsVirtual reality Virtual rehabilitation Cognitive impairment Biomedical engineering
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