Physical Therapy

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Virtual Reality in Physical Therapy The recent utilization of virtual reality simulations and gaming in physical therapy has not only caused the ability for brain damage and stroke patients to be treated in a fun way, but is also cause for increased responsiveness and decreased recovery time because of more stimulated and interactive therapy programs. Virtual reality is a very modern technology. As its name implies, virtual reality is the man made creation of a false reality in which people can function in and react to. This technology has mainly only been used for gaming and for casual recreational purposes, but quite recently it has found its way to being one of the most potentially useful tools in our modern world. It is…show more content…
Benefits of VR Therapy Using virtual reality simulations and games can help those with brain damage or recent moderate to severe strokes recover. Virtual reality simulations can have a wide variety of applications in therapy, such as muscular, joint, and visual and cognitive rehabilitation. Recently therapists have been intrigued at how virtual reality affects a patient’s motor skills and muscular neural connections. Researchers say, “Around 55 to 75 percent of stroke patients experience mobility problems that impair their quality of life. The findings suggest these games may provide a better alternative to aid stroke patients in their rehabilitation” (Langhorne & Stott, 2011). Virtual reality simulations have been modified into therapy programs to help rehabilitation in stroke and mentally impaired patients. In these simulations (which are often performed as games), the patients are made to immerse themselves in and react to a virtual situation. They are immersed into this “world” by wearing special goggles that allows them to be surrounded by the virtual reality, or just by looking at screen displayed imaging much like a video game. For most patients VR programs are easier for…show more content…
For example, some virtual reality therapy exercises require patients to perform seemingly daily tasks, such as move about and physically interact with objects as normally as possible. Other simulations may include the use of a gaming scenario, such as playing soccer or other sports to get the patient to react and move about. Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, director of the Stroke Outcomes Research Unit at St. Michael 's Hospital at the University of Toronto, and colleagues did an analysis on 12 case studies that tested the effectiveness of the utilization of VR therapy to stroke victims specifically. Five of the case studies were experimental trials where patients were randomly selected to receive standard therapy or use virtual reality therapy by playing games. Conducted simultaneously, these studies were able to conclude that subjects who were under a virtual reality therapy program were able to build their upper body strength nearly 5 times more than the patients who received the standard therapy in the same amount of time. The other seven studies reviewed subject progress from before using virtual reality and after. These experiment groups concluded an estimated 15% improvement, on average, in patients ' grip strength and a 20% improvement in patients ' ability to perform standard daily tasks. There was an even more recent study that was conducted in January of 2014. In this study several
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