The medical sector seems to be benefiting from advanced technologies, virtual reality being one of them. This technology could help stroke patients regain the movement of their weakened arm or leg. Earlier also it has been seen that stroke patients were benefited in different ways through this technology. For instance, it could help in boosting memory of such patients, speed up the recovery process and more. Now, it can be used to recover the movement of the affected limb. How is this possible? Let us have a look at this post to know more.
Virtual Reality Study
Researchers in Spain discovered that the weakened limb appears more effective to the patients on screen and it increases the chance of the patients using it in real life. Since stroke victims tend to underuse their affected limbs and make them even weaker, this research result could turn out to be important.
A “Rehabilitation Gaming System” (RGS) was used with a Microsoft Kinect sensor in the study. The patients were able to manage a virtual object using their own movements, from a first-person perspective.
20 stroke patients took part in the study where researchers improved the virtual images of the patient’s weakened limb, without their knowledge. The affected limb seemed quicker and more accurate in this virtual representation. It was seen that after the study, patients started using their weakened limbs more.
Lead researcher, Belen Rubio from the Laboratory of Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems at Pompeu Fabra University in Spain said “Surprisingly, only 10 minutes of enhancement was enough to induce significant changes in the amount of spontaneous use of the affected limb.”
She added “This therapy could create a virtuous circle of recovery, in which positive feedback, spontaneous arm use and motor performance can reinforce each other. Engaging patients in this ongoing cycle of spontaneous arm use, training and learning could produce a remarkable impact on their recovery process.”
Before & After the Research
Before the study, it was seen that there was an average chance of 35 percent that the group of 20 stroke patients would chose their paretic arm to hold something which is placed right in front of them. After the virtual enhancement, average chance of using the paretic arm increases by 15 percent, i.e. it becomes 50 percent, which is similar to a healthy person.
An author of the study and a leader of the research team, Professor Paul Verschure told BBC, that a long-term follow-up has been planned to see the effects of the experiment on everyday lives of the patients.
According to Stroke Association, physical treatment can rewire a stroke victim’s brain.
Dr. Shamim Quadir, research communications manager at the Association said “The results of this pilot study suggest that the power of virtual reality could be used in the future to help stroke patients build confidence in using their weakened limb, and therefore promote their recovery. Larger trials are needed establish whether this is possible.”
Thus, virtual reality could help stroke patients to have a better limb movement.
What do you think?
Do you think virtual reality can help stroke patients regain their limb movement? What other applications of virtual reality do you like? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Image & Article Source – bbc.com