Virtual Reality in Motor and Cognitive Rehabilitation

 

The introduction and development of new technologies has opened up countless new possibilities for motor and cognitive rehabilitation. In particular, there are numerous studies showing how virtual reality simulations can favor the acquisition of simple motor sequences. In some situations, virtual reality exercises have been found to be as effective for the rehabilitation of complex motor functions as exercises performed in a non-simulated environment.

Furthermore, among the other advantages conveyed by the introduction of this particular type of technology, the use of virtual reality introduces the possibility of performing and monitoring series of repeated exercises and also allows the complexity of the motor tasks to be easily modified according to with the patient’s progress.

Starting from this evidence, and keeping the studies carried out on motor imagination as a reference framework, the I-Learning project set out to develop an innovative technology based on a virtual reality system capable of supporting motor imagination considered to be a fundamental resource for the rehabilitation of complex movements.

The key point on which the project is based is the use of a non-immersive virtual technology as a support tool for the motor imagination, in order to foster the sense of presence in virtual reality, and allow through this to acquire knowledge. Indeed, even a low-cost virtual reality system will be able to arouse a sense of presence if supported by the cognitive abilities preserved in the patient.

We believe that the conjunction of these two aspects of cognition will prove to be useful for the rehabilitation of motor functions. A virtual environment in which it is possible to integrate the sense of presence with motor imagery will be able to assist the users in the acquisition of «new» procedural knowledge.


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