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Virtual Reality Aids Stroke Recovery

Virtual Reality Aids Stroke Recovery

Virtual reality therapies improve impairment in stroke patients…

In a new review of previous studies, scientists have found that virtual reality tools may aid recovery in those who have suffered from stroke. The new data, suggests that those who engage in rehabilitation programs involving such high-tech gadgetry are more likely to improve their motor functions, when compared with patients not using virtual reality aids.

Analyzing three medical libraries to gather data on virtual reality technology in stroke patients, researchers found 12 applicable studies. The studies looked specifically at improving impairment in the upper arm, and included patients of all ages from 26 – 88, all of whom had been enrolled in their rehabilitation programs for at least 4-6 weeks.

The analysis showed that those whose rehabilitation therapy involved the use of high-tech aids such as motion tracking video games, robotic gloves and 3-D goggles, were 15 – 20 percent more likely to improve motor functions.

virtual reality aids stroke recovery Virtual Reality Aids Stroke Recovery

Virtual Reality Aids Recovery

Image Credit: Elizabeth Lockwood, U.S. Army, 2009.

Studies have shown that stroke patients have a 55-75 percent chance of suffering from motor defects including impaired hand-eye coordination, muscle weakness and even paralysis. Physical and occupational therapy have been shown to help improve motor functions following a stroke; however the new data suggests that virtual reality games and other interactive computer programs may further aid the recovery process.

Mindy Levin, PhD, a professor from the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy at McGill University in Montreal who was involved in the study said:

“This technology gets people to work more and harder and be more creative. And all of that taps into the brain’s plasticity and helps the brain change — and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

“[Virtual reality tools] will help us to meet that challenge of delivering more therapy to patients in a friendly way that’s more accessible to people.” [WebMD]

The study was published in the journal Stroke.


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  1. Brenda Goodman: Virtual Reality Tools May Aid Stroke Recovery. WebMD, 04/07/2011.

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