Recent experimental evidence suggests that rapid advancement of virtualreality (VR) technologies has great potential for the development of novelstrategies for sensorimotor training in neurorehabilitation. We discuss whatthe adaptive and engaging virtual environments can provide for massive andintensive sensorimotor stimulation needed to induce brain reorganization.Second, discrepancies between the veridical and virtual feedback can beintroduced in VR to facilitate activation of targeted brain networks, whichin turn can potentially speed up the recovery process. Here we review theexisting experimental evidence regarding the beneficial effects of trainingin virtual environments on the recovery of function in the areas of gait,upper extremity function and balance, in various patient populations. Wealso discuss possible mechanisms underlying these effects. We feel thatfuture research in the area of virtual rehabilitation should follow severalimportant paths. Imaging studies to evaluate the effects of sensorymanipulation on brain activation patterns and the effect of various trainingparameters on long term changes in brain function are needed to guide futureclinical inquiry. Larger clinical studies are also needed to establish theefficacy of sensorimotor rehabilitation using VR in various clinicalpopulations and most importantly, to identify VR training parameters thatare associated with optimal transfer to real-world functional improvements.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
- Clinical Neurology
- Sensorimotor training
- Virtual environment
- Virtual reality