Virtual Reality in Neurorehabilitation

Sistema de Realidad Virtual

Virtual reality is a technological system that has gained ground in neurological rehabilitation in recent years, although it has begun to develop in the 60s. Virtual Reality is used to artificially create sensory information from an interactive virtual environment being perceived as real and thus favoring exploration, commitment, curiosity and motivation.

In the neurological clinic of physiotherapy in Sant Cugat del Valles, we integrate Virtual Reality systems in neurorehabilitation of patients with stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases. The objective of their integration is to increase the effectiveness of the treatment according to the scientific evidence, to increase the adherence of the treatment by the users and to provide opportunities and sensations not achieved by conventional methods.

In the field of the rehabilitation of diseases and especially of the deficits caused by the injuries of the nervous system, an important development of different systems and tools is observed. Many of these tools are focused on the treatment of the cognitive system (example: alteration of memory), motor system (example: leg movement) and sensory system (example: neuropathic pain).

An example of the application of Virtual Reality systems in the rehabilitation of patients in this neurological center is in alteration of balance. The alteration of balance can lead to a reduction in the practice of physical and ambulatory activity, limiting participation in activities of daily life and deterioration of the quality of life. With a virtual reality system, the therapist can provide the patient with the right environment for the work of balance without exposing him to risks. In this case activating the visuo-vestibular system involved in the maintenance of balance, gait etc.

There are several published studies that conclude that interventions based on Virtual Reality are effective in the treatment of balance and gait deficit after the Cerebral Vascular Accident or Stroke. However, intervention protocols can not be constructed since the therapist has the fundamental role of assessing and developing the most appropriate therapeutic plan for each patient.