Virtual reality in stroke rehabilitation -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine


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Virtual reality in stroke rehabilitation

Every year, millions of people suffer a stroke. A third of them doesn't survive and another third stays permanently disabled. For this patients, it is important to fight their way back into life. This fight can be tough. That’s why it is important to support patients on their way.

There is a wide range of devices that are supporting the rehabilitation process of stroke patients. Robotic devices can actively assist patients during therapy of the upper and lower limbs. On the other hand, passive devices, can be used to train the limb functions, but cannot actively support movements. Computers play an important role in our everyday life − rehabilitation therapy is no exception. Virtual reality gaming, combined with methods of monitoring patient’s movement, like Kinect cameras and inertial sensors, are the new approach.
Interactive video gaming in rehabilitation therapy enables simulation of real life objects and events. The features of virtual reality help patients to spend more time in therapy and thus increase their motivation level. A recent study of Laver, George, Thomas, Deutsch and Crotty found evidence that virtual reality and interactive video gaming may be beneficial in improving upper limb function and ADL function when used as an adjunct to usual care.

The number of devices that use this fact is growing. Bimeo combines proven rehabilitation methods with virtual reality. It is a sensor based rehabilitation system for upper limbs that engages patients in a motivation training environment, where they train activities of daily living. Sensors are determining the position of the upper limb and together with proprietary algorithms provide an objective monitoring of the patient’s state and improvement. Besides being motivating for the patient, the system also provides an objective insight for the clinician and can be used as a decision-making tool for insurance companies.
Patient compliance is an important factor in rehabilitation, thus finding motivating therapy methods is important for the success of the rehabilitation process.