Virtual reality becomes a major player in rehabilitation
Physical rehabilitations is one of the most stressful and challenging stages of any recovery process. It involves re-teaching the patient basic human motions such as walking or picking up objects. Many patients undergoing physical therapy sometimes feel detached and give up. Doctors often say that the patients may have physically healed fully but still cannot explain why they are immobile.
It all comes down to mind over matter, and this is precisely why virtual reality rehabilitation has become such a success in patient therapy.
How Traditional physical therapy works
Rehabilitation works by hyper-focusing on affected muscles. The therapist works on the muscles continuously build its strength. Take a stroke patient, for instance, the therapist will work the leg muscles continually until the leg can move independently and eventually be used to walk.
How the virtual reality technology works with therapy
The patient is fitted with machinery that monitors their movement. An avatar is then created by the scientists to carry out various movements. The patient’s movement and the avatar are synchronized and every twitch recorded.
“The device he is wearing is a motion-based action glove that helps patients with full hand paralysis,” said Park-Si-Yang, a reporter with Arirang News. “The game simulates daily activities like picking up objects and other patient movements.”
The scientists are then able to affect different obstacles and events through the avatar. Using the motion based mechanics fitted on them the patients can manipulate their virtual self.
Why virtual reality rehabilitation so successful?
- Scientists doing the research have released that they have seen significant improvements in patient movements when using the tech. Due to the safe environment. Patients can start the physical rehabilitation much earlier.
- Physical therapy is often started four weeks after the injury, giving the patient enough time to heal physically. This is also enough time for the patient to acquire a mental block. By starting early, the mind quickly understands that it can carry out the motions required.
- The VR therapy is done in a safe space. Again, this gives the victim a sense of freedom and confidence
- Most patients interviewed that they tried the treatments because they believed it was fun. By making the activity fun, the patients were able to redo the exercise over and over, creating familiarity with both the muscles and the mind.
Why is it such a big breakthrough?
Suffice all the hype around virtual reality therapy, the traditional methods are also advantageous and practiced widely. But the ability of the VR aviator to detect the entire patient’s movements and record them has helped build data, leading to better research.
Virtual reality rehabilitation therapy also requires less interaction with the therapist. Again the importance of the therapist cannot be forgone. They offer encouragement and direction. But if a patient feels they are carrying these activities independently, they are more likely to gain confidence and perform better.
The virtual state of the tech allows it to be used, well for anything. With the traditional equipment, you need a particular machine and a different set of instructions for rehabilitation for each body part. But with VR therapy integration with the software is the entire requirement needed, making it a cheap and convenient treatment.
What is the future for VR treatment?
It is still in its experimental phase. But the team of scientists is looking to integrate the system in game consoles to make the technology more accessible to people. With Samsung and other big tech giants already launching their VR equipment, this would make virtual reality rehabilitation therapy more available.