VR for stroke rehabilitation in Texas is helping stroke patients start to walk much sooner than just the traditional stroke rehab protocols.
Walking is one of the most common activities after stroke, especially post-stroke rehabilitation. It is important to keep your patient moving so that they don’t become sedentary and lose their ability to move around independently as they did before their stroke.
VR for brain injury rehab allows the patient to accelerate results in physical and occupational therapies; cognitive improvements as well as motor skills too.
Traditional Stroke Rehabilitation
Neuro-rehab is the application of brain stimulation techniques to the rehabilitation of patients recovering from a stroke. The three main types of neuro-rehab are
- Rehabilitation of motor function
- Rehabilitation of speech, language, and reading skills, and
- Rehabilitation of affective and social interactions.
VR for stroke rehabilitation is a completely new area that has only recently come into existence, but it has already been proven effective in a number of ways.
For example, there have been a number of studies showing that VR for stroke rehabilitation can be used to improve post-stroke mobility and quality of life, as well as improve physical pain perception.
The first part (rehabilitation of motor function) has been proven effective in various ways including, but not limited to:
- Balance through the improvement in upper limb coordination
- Overall coordination
- Fine motor coordination
- Improved handgrip strength
- Increased ability to grasp objects in one’s hands,
- Improved muscle activity during physical therapy sessions has also been reported.
The second part (rehabilitation of speech, language, and reading skills/reading at a distance) has also been proven effective:
VR for stroke rehabilitation can be used in a variety of ways including mind-to-mind communication with people who live far away from you or your family members;
- The uses of VR glasses for reading publications on your computer screen at home;
- Use with repetitive tasks like playing games on mobile phones;
- Even reading from textbooks in class or textbooks on your PC at home.
The third part (brain stimulation) is very promising too: Brain stimulation through either electrodes or brain stimulators has been successfully used for brain stimulation for stroke rehabilitation, with considerable improvements reported both overall and in studies conducted specifically within this field when compared with traditional brain stimulation techniques such as deep brain stimulations or electroencephalography (EEG).
VR and Brain Injury Rehabilitation
VR for brain injury rehabilitation is a hot topic these days, with many companies and scientists attempting to apply it to neuro-rehab of various kinds.
There are two types of neuro-rehabilitation, and both have been shown to increase patient outcomes. A small, but growing number of studies have shown that the most effective neuro-rehab option is virtual reality (VR).
Recently an article was published in Neurorehabilitation & Neural Repair on the effect of VR on rehabilitation outcomes.
This study was very compelling and detailed; I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. The authors used a large single-blinded randomized clinical trial with a very large sample size (n=200).
They found significant improvement in motor skills (measured by motor function tests), cognitive function (measured by test scores), and pain intensity as well as improvements in physical function as measured by gait speed, handgrip strength, elbow flexion range, and arm extension strength.
They also found that these improvements were maintained for up to 4 weeks post-intervention. This was an impressive finding given that their primary endpoint was the reduction in pain within 4 weeks from baseline at 8 weeks post-intervention!
This study shows how VR can be used effectively for stroke rehab too. Unlike other forms of neuro rehab, this one seems to be less invasive than other forms of VR therapy so that even patients who are physically limited or disabled may benefit from this form of treatment.
Physical therapy with Virtual Reality
The idea of virtual reality is not new; it has been around for decades. But what is a fairly new concept, and one that has huge application potential in the field of rehabilitation therapy is the use of VR to treat stroke patients.
Before you get excited because you’ve heard about this exciting new technology that will revolutionize rehabilitation therapy, you should know that there are several caveats:
- VR technology is not yet available anywhere it can be effectively applied (it requires expensive and powerful computers)
- Most notably, there are no devices or software currently available which can work well with VR headsets (there are several external ones but they lack
Occupational therapy with Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) has been used in a number of ways: to treat depression; to treat traumatic brain injury and stroke; to help with the treatment of pain and anxiety disorders.
The Virtual Rehabilitation Toolbox (VRT) is an interactive system that allows rehabilitation professionals to create virtual environments that are specifically designed to be used in rehabilitation programs.
VR training can help the patient understand what they are doing, and allow them to make the changes they need to overcome their limitations.
Several studies have shown that VR can be used in rehabilitation settings for patients suffering from strokes, even if the patient has no cognitive impairments or neurological deficits. Strokes and other traumatic brain injuries can result in partial or total paralysis of the head, as well as paralysis of muscles around the neck and face.
Rehabilitation programs have traditionally focused on muscle movements, but with VR technologies companies such as VivoBrain offer an opportunity for new therapies such as virtual reality therapy.
How Does VR Help The Brain Recover From A Stroke?
Virtual reality (VR) and neuro-rehab have been shown to be effective in treating stroke rehabilitation, especially for stroke patients with cognitive deficits.
A recent study on the efficacy of VR treatment in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) showed a major improvement in executive function, planning, and working memory compared to a control group.
The results were attributed to an increased attentional focus and an increase in stimulation of cortical areas. The results occurred after 3 weeks of VR therapy, rather than the usual 6 months for similar treatments.
The study, published online in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, was conducted by researchers from many countries including Canada and the United States, who examined the effectiveness of VR therapy for MCI on motor functions and cognition.