Virtual reality for rehabilitation

Families of children with disabilities are faced with challenges in receiving proper long-term care.

Cost, accessibility of facilities, and consistency of care can all harbor a child’s rehabilitation process. For example, children born with cerebral palsy often need a lifetime of therapy to improve their limitations. Such conditions come with cognitive impairments such as challenges with attention span, decision making, memory, and speech.

Virtual reality can be leveraged to create sustainable at-home therapy options. A VR rehabilitation kit for a patient allows doctors to tailor a program for an individual’s specific therapy goals, physical or cognitive. Quantitative performance data can be collected, and challenges can be adjusted based on progress. Immersive and engaging virtual worlds will prove to be more desirable for children. The applications for this type of technology are limitless. Research shows that children exposed to VR related therapy have greater physical improvement, cognitive development, and participation. The same is found for stroke patients, people that have suffered suffered congenital amputations, etc.

Right now, these types of therapy are not consumer ready, and they should be considering the amount market-ready VR kits for gaming. It is our social responsibility to create VR-based health care solutions that empower and engage patients. Such a solution is universal by design and can accommodate based on impairment, age, education, culture, etc. There are already some companies paving the way for this type of VR application. One is a local Vegas company, called VR Kids. Although their application focuses on therapeutic efforts for children, their model is one that could easily be adapted for in-home patient therapy.