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      Virtual rehabilitation: What are the practical barriers for home-based research?

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          Virtual reality technologies are becoming increasingly accessible and affordable to deliver, and consequently the interest in applying virtual reality within rehabilitation is growing. This has resulted in the emergence of research exploring the utility of virtual reality and interactive video gaming interventions for home use by patients. The aim of this paper is to highlight the practical factors and difficulties that may be encountered in research in this area, and to make recommendations for addressing these. Whilst this paper focuses on examples drawn mainly from stroke rehabilitation research, many of the issues raised are relevant to other conditions where virtual reality approaches have the potential to be applied to home-based rehabilitation.

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          Most cited references 34

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          Virtual environments for motor rehabilitation: review.

          In this paper, the current "state of the art" for virtual reality (VR) applications in the field of motor rehabilitation is reviewed. The paper begins with a brief overview of available equipment options. Next, a discussion of the scientific rationale for use of VR in motor rehabilitation is provided. Finally, the major portion of the paper describes the various VR systems that have been developed for use with patients, and the results of clinical studies reported to date in the literature. Areas covered include stroke rehabilitation (upper and lower extremity training, spatial and perceptual-motor training), acquired brain injury, Parkinson's disease, orthopedic rehabilitation, balance training, wheelchair mobility and functional activities of daily living training, and the newly developing field of telerehabilitation. Four major findings emerge from these studies: (1) people with disabilities appear capable of motor learning within virtual environments; (2) movements learned by people with disabilities in VR transfer to real world equivalent motor tasks in most cases, and in some cases even generalize to other untrained tasks; (3) in the few studies (n = 5) that have compared motor learning in real versus virtual environments, some advantage for VR training has been found in all cases; and (4) no occurrences of cybersickness in impaired populations have been reported to date in experiments where VR has been used to train motor abilities.
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            Effectiveness of virtual reality using Wii gaming technology in stroke rehabilitation: a pilot randomized clinical trial and proof of principle.

            Hemiparesis resulting in functional limitation of an upper extremity is common among stroke survivors. Although existing evidence suggests that increasing intensity of stroke rehabilitation therapy results in better motor recovery, limited evidence is available on the efficacy of virtual reality for stroke rehabilitation. In this pilot, randomized, single-blinded clinical trial with 2 parallel groups involving stroke patients within 2 months, we compared the feasibility, safety, and efficacy of virtual reality using the Nintendo Wii gaming system (VRWii) versus recreational therapy (playing cards, bingo, or "Jenga") among those receiving standard rehabilitation to evaluate arm motor improvement. The primary feasibility outcome was the total time receiving the intervention. The primary safety outcome was the proportion of patients experiencing intervention-related adverse events during the study period. Efficacy, a secondary outcome measure, was evaluated with the Wolf Motor Function Test, Box and Block Test, and Stroke Impact Scale at 4 weeks after intervention. Overall, 22 of 110 (20%) of screened patients were randomized. The mean age (range) was 61.3 (41 to 83) years. Two participants dropped out after a training session. The interventions were successfully delivered in 9 of 10 participants in the VRWii and 8 of 10 in the recreational therapy arm. The mean total session time was 388 minutes in the recreational therapy group compared with 364 minutes in the VRWii group (P=0.75). There were no serious adverse events in any group. Relative to the recreational therapy group, participants in the VRWii arm had a significant improvement in mean motor function of 7 seconds (Wolf Motor Function Test, 7.4 seconds; 95% CI, -14.5, -0.2) after adjustment for age, baseline functional status (Wolf Motor Function Test), and stroke severity. VRWii gaming technology represents a safe, feasible, and potentially effective alternative to facilitate rehabilitation therapy and promote motor recovery after stroke.
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              A SWOT Analysis of the Field of Virtual Reality Rehabilitation and Therapy


                Author and article information

                Digit Health
                Digit Health
                Digital health
                SAGE Publications (Sage UK: London, England )
                29 April 2016
                Jan-Dec 2016
                : 2
                [1 ]School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
                [2 ]Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
                Author notes
                Dr Kate Threapleton, School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, A Floor, South Block Link, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2HA, UK. Email: kate.threapleton@
                © The Author(s) 2016

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (

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                January-December 2016


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