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Normally, most sources consider virtual rehabilitation to be the application of digital technologies (among which virtual reality can be found) for the physical or cognitive recovery of those individuals who can benefit from participating in a rehabilitation program both in a rehabilitation center or at home.
Just as with the main type of rehabilitation traditional rehabilitation, virtual rehabilitation has as its main objective to recover those fucntions that were lost as a result of a disease or injury. However, both differ in the way that patients are rehabilitated and in other aspects that we will cover in the following sections. First of all, one of the main differences between virtual rehabilitation and traditional rehabilitation is that only the first one uses virtual reality. Virtual reality is usually defined as the creation of virtual environments that simulate the real world. According to this definition, there are two types of virtual reality: immersive and non-immersive. Immersive virtual reality requires the use of virtual reality goggles or a head-mounted device (HMD) whereas non-immersive virtual reality uses a television set or a projector. Both types are just as effective and very useful for rehabilitation. However, virtual rehabilitation also allows for the incorporation of other characteristics that are very important, like gamification.
Online Rehabilitation Exercises
Gamification plays an important role in ensuring that rehabilitation sessions are more motivating for patients. It is considered that “gamifying” something is “applying game strategies in contexts where they are not usually used, with the goal of making individuals adopt certain behaviors.”
Therefore, converting exercises normally used in traditional rehabilitation into online rehabilitation games will have a considerable effect on patient motivation and on their participation during the rehabilitation process. And, as numerous clinical studies have shown, patients that participate more actively in their rehabilitation obtain better outcomes and a higher level of functionality. This is why we at Rehametrics place such importance on making the rehabilitation exercises we design, more fun. We know that they will have a direct effect on the recovery of all patients that use Rehametrics.
And, of course, motivation will become even more important if the objective of using Rehametrics is to deliver rehabilitation sessions directly to the patient’s home. Once at home, patients will complete their rehabilitation sessions autonomously which is why it is even more important to get them motivated and to participate in their rehabilitation.
Use of Virtual Reality in Rehabilitation
However, although it looks like something very new, the truth is that virtual reality has been used in rehabilitation for some time now. For some time now, rehabilitation centers all over the world have understood the benefits obtained from using virtual reality. During the nineties, virtual reality started being used in rehabilitation to simulate real situations and environments. The main goal was, above all, to observe patient behavior. In this way it was possible to verify that those rehabilitation tasks that used virtual reality gave clinicians greater control of the rehabilitation session.
Later on, the introduction of industrial technologies in the video game industry resulted in lower costs and enabled their use in multiple other applications. Sensors like the Wiimote, the Wii Balance Board or the Kinect offered way to interact more naturally with virtual environments and at a lower cost. In a way, virtual reality became available “for the masses”, enabling the use of the benefits it offers with a greater number of patients.
Benefits of Virtual Rehabilitation
Virtual rehabilitation offers numerous advantages to rehabilitation professionals. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all virtual rehabilitation platforms are the same. Rehametrics is the only platform that combines ease-of-use, session quantification and task personalization in the same platform. But, why is it important to include these three characteristics in the same virtual rehabilitation platform?
On the one hand, the use of depth sensors makes it possible to track patient movements during rehabilitation sessions in detail, without having to place any devices on the patient’s body. This allows for a reduction in the time it takes to set up a session and ensures that patients use natural movements.
Similarly, session quantification allows Rehametrics to extract relevant clinical data for healthcare professionals while patients complete their prescribed rehabilitation sessions. Using this data, it is possible to obtain a more objective view -session after session- of patient evolution over time.
Finally, the personalization capabilities within the exercises available in Rehametrics allow for the individualization of rehabilitation treatment plans, adjusting them to the goals and need of each patient.
Virtual Reality as a Rehabilitation Therapy
Virtual reality does not only allow a greater control over the task that patients will complete or its personalization according to patient needs. If you use the right virtual rehabilitation platform, it will also collect clinical data during the sessions completed by patients, automatically. This information can be used by the clinical team to have a more objective global view of each patient. But, above all, it enables a common, shared view between the different clinical areas normally associated with rehabilitation. Being able to share information on patient performance collected while patients complete their prescribed physical, cognitive or language rehabilitation exercises with the different allied health professionals facilitates communication and, as a result, collaboration. And, of course, this allows patients to obtain better outcomes and increases patient functionality.
Indeed, more and more clinical studies are highlighting the benefits offered to both patients and clinicians of using virtual reality as a rehabilitation therapy. In this section you will find a listing of various studies that have applied virtual reality or digital technology to rehabilitation. Similarly, if you are interested in receiving information on the numerous clinical studies completed with Rehametrics, you can contact us by writing an email to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting that data.