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How Innovative Virtual Reality Is Improving Physiotherapy

Date : Mar 24, 2020

Author : DR A Zayed

Virtual reality is still a relatively new concept in the modern world, but it is already being implemented in many areas. Recently, the medical industry has also started to show interest in the use of virtual reality. According to some new studies, physiotherapy is one particular medical area that may be able to benefit from virtual reality technology.

The Possible Role Of VR In Physiotherapy

Virtual reality technology also referred to simply as VR, now holds the potential to help patients who had previously undergone certain injuries.

Physiotherapy often involves the process of providing patients details about exercises that they can perform at their home. The idea behind these customized exercises is to help the patient throughout the recovery period. 

Physiotherapists often find that patients do not adhere to the instructions that they were provided. With this in mind, there is a reduced chance of successful recovery among patients who do not adhere to the exercise program that is prescribed to them.

a man wearing virtual reality glasses

A new study, conducted by researchers at the University of Warwick, found that virtual reality technology may be the answer to increasing adherence to physiotherapy exercise programs.

Researchers at the University of Warwick worked on a new project that combined two of the more recent advancements in technology the world has welcomed. This includes 3D motion capture, along with virtual reality technology.

The combined effect of the two provides a more effective way of providing patients with the motivation they need to continue practicing their prescribed exercise plan once they leave the physiotherapist’s office. Additionally, the system also gives the physiotherapist a new way of tracking the performance and, of course, the adherence of the patient.

The virtual reality system provided the patients with a visual system demonstrating the exercises they need to perform. This allowed the patient to get a more accurate overview of the movements they need to do during the session. It also acted as a motivational system for the patients – partly due to the use of the VR technology, and partly because they were aware that the physiotherapist was able to observe their adherence to the exercise program.

The use of 3D motion capture technology allowed the patient to see how well they were doing in terms of the exercise program. This technology also allowed data of the patient to be collected. The data could then be compiled and reported back to the physiotherapist.

Together, the two technologies also had the ability to show the patient how well they are performing each movement. The patient’s own movement was synced with an avatar displayed in the virtual reality headset.

Their own movement was then displayed combined with the avatar. This allowed the patient to not only improve their adherence to the program itself but also improve their ability to effectively perform every move that formed part of the exercises that were prescribed to them.

At the end of the study, researchers conclude that improvements have been noted in patients who used the new virtual reality system for physiotherapy at home. They also report an improvement in adherence to the exercise program that the physiotherapist provided.

Conclusion

Recent studies suggest that the use of virtual reality may be a highly effective technique to provide patients with access to physiotherapy at home. This reduces the medical costs involved with setting up an appointment with a physiotherapist. It also allows the patient to perform appropriate movements to help with recovery in the comfort of their own home.

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