Virtual Reality enhanced stroke rehabilitation system

Rehabilitation following stroke must address both the underlying deficits (range of motion, strength, and coordination) and the skilled use of the arm for the performance of ADL. Ideas gleaned from motor learning research suggest that rehabilitation should include a large amount of practice that contains not only repetition of an activity but performance of that activity in a way that promotes solving new and novel motor problems. In this sense, using VR technology may assist the rehabilitation process by allowing the systematic presentation of practice trials of a given task to a degree not fully possible in traditional therapy. The potential advantages of using VR technology in rehabilitation are (1) interactivities to motivate stroke patients including video and auditory feedback and (2) manipulability to allow the therapist to tailor treatment sessions focusing on the deficits specific to an individual and increasing task complexity as appropriate. In addition, trials in VRSRS can be presented in such away as to require both repetition and problem solving for the promotion of motor learning without boredom due to its game features. Research to date has found that the use of VR in motor rehabilitation for individuals post-stroke is feasible to address deficits in reaching, hand function, and walking. Nonetheless, important issues such as usability in designing applications of VRSRS have been often neglected or at least not firmly established because using VRSRS as a therapeutic intervention is still in its infancy. In the following sections, we will describe the concept of human factors design and how we have applied the concept to one of our applications of VRSRS, the Reaching Task.

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