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The first thing that comes to mind is that Virtual Rehab can transport patients with long hospital stays and forecasts that convert life into tropical islands, or fly across the sky like Super Man as a diversionary means. My next thought is how interesting it is to use this cutting-edge technology as a tool for rehabilitation.

Vourvopoulus and Bermúdez I Badia published an article in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation in August this year regarding the use of Virtual Rehab as a means to stimulate sensory-motor networks in the brain. Participants wear a screen mounted on the head and earphones. They saw a virtual hand twisting a crank that slowly opened the garage door. Meanwhile they heard the sound of the pulley chains system and the movement of the big iron doors. Participants are then instructed to use mental imagery (ie, imagine them performing actions without doing it physically) while experiencing the Virtual Rehab environment. The same participants were then asked to use the mental image of the above motor task without using Virtual Rehab.

They found that Virtual Rehab, in addition to mental imagery, produces brain patterns that are more similar to those present during clear motor execution. Since previous motor images have been shown to help restore active movement through stimulation of sensoric-motor networks [2], the results of the above study suggest that the addition of Virtual Rehab may do so more effectively given that such combinations can add electrical activity in the same area of brain [3]. That is, the recurrent stimulation of the brain’s sensory motor tissue has the potential to induce neuroplastic changes so that the patient can return to function.

Virtual Rehab medical applications are an emerging field of research and development, but our knowledge of how best to apply this innovative technology is still in its infancy. Given the promising research and great potential for entertainment, I believe Virtual Rehab will be a welcome therapy modality for a wide range of patients.

Reference

The experience provided by VR HTC Vive hardware runs the ‘theBlu: Encounter’ demo.

García Carrasco D, Aboitiz Cantalapiedra J. The effectiveness of motor image or mental exercise in functional recovery after a stroke: a systematic review. Neurologia. 2016 Jan-Feb; 31 (1): 43-52. doi: 10.1016 / j.nrl.2013.02.003. Epub 2013 Apr 17.

Vourvopoulos A, Bermúdez I Badia S. Motor priming in virtual reality can increase the efficacy of motor-imagery exercises in brain-computer interaction restorative: in-subject analysis. A Neuroeng Rehabil. 2016 August 9; 13 (1): 69. doi: 10.1186 / s12984-016-0173-2.

Hyungjun Im, MD et al. Virtual Reality-Guided Motor Imagery Increases Corticomotor Capability in Healthy Volunteers and Stroke Patients. Ann Rehabil Med. 2016 June; 40 (3): 420-431. Published online 2016 Jun 29. doi: 10.5535 / arm.2016.40.3.420.

Ana RC Donati et al. Long Term Training with Gait Protocol Interfacial Brain Interface Induces Partial Neurological Restoration in Paraplegic Patients. Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 30383. Published online 2016 August 11 doi: 10.1038 / srep30383.

AppliedVR Membawa Konten Reality Virtual Terapeutik Ke Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. mHealthTimesmHealthTimes.

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