Emerging Perspectives of Virtual Reality Techniques


Physical Therapy

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Source

Virtual Reality in Health and Rehabilitation

Publication Date



Over the past several years, innovations in technology have progressively challenged traditional rehabilitation paradigms. More specifically, virtual reality (VR), often in combination with robotic devices, continues to emerge as an option to assist, augment, evaluate, and document the rehabilitation for individuals with a variety of neurologic disorders. The most promising VR rehabilitation approaches are task-oriented, based on contemporary concepts of motor learning and practice-induced neuroplasticity designed to improve motor function including balance, gait, and activities of daily living. The purpose of this chapter is to review relevant evidence on neuroplasticity and describe VR rehabilitation applications (including VR-augmented robotic devices) targeting motor function in persons with neurologic and orthopedic disorders. An overview of VR neurorehabilitation, extensively studied in individuals with stroke, Parkinson's disease, and cerebral palsy, will be described as a viable option for the rehabilitation of patients with neurological disorders. Additionally, a review of recent clinical trials begins to demonstrate the effectiveness of VR in the orthopedic rehabilitation setting, as well as in the role of decreasing and managing pain in individuals either undergoing medical procedures or dealing with chronic pain. Finally, we describe the application of a commercially available VR-enhanced haptic robotic device using a task-oriented rehabilitation approach for a patient with an orthopedic disorder of the wrist and hand to improve functional outcomes. The feasibility of this approach, as well as the acceptance of the device and training program, is discussed.