Using virtual environments in neurology

Chaired by Judith Deutsch, from the US, opened this focused symposium on using virtual environments in neurology by introducing the latest findings on using virtual environments and serious games for rehabilitation of balance, mobility and fitness for those with neurological conditions. 

Kelly Bower, from Australia, presented examples of technological implementation in a stroke rehabilitation setting. She selected Wii Fit to help stroke patients with balance and found patients reported the games were enjoyable, and did not result in any adverse effects. 

Leanne Hassett, from Australia, talked about her trial using virtual reality gaming systems to improve mobility and physical activity. She shared data from an inpatient setting, including some photos and videos to show how the games were modified for use in a rehabilitation setting. When considering whether to implement new technologies she asked the audience to consider the technological advancement acceptance model. She noted some patients respond well when introduced to gaming as part of the rehabilitation, but other participants said some of the games were not age appropriate. 

Jose Eduardo Pompeu, from Brazil, summarized evidence in support of using virtual environments in Brazil. He presented evidence on the use of immersive virtual environments to assess spatial reasoning, and discussed the feasibility of immersive virtual environments developed for cognitive sensory motor training. 

To conclude the session, the speakers shared their experiences of incorporating technology into treatment. Judith showed examples of therapeutic exercises being used in her class. She concluded that although virtual games were useful and encouraged high participation, they were far from the “be all and end all” and there were some low cost alternatives such as mobile phones and apps. 

Congress sessions are available on demand to all registered participants until 8 July 2021.

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World Physiotherapy Congress 2021 online