Finalist category: Digital Health Award
Digital Health Award, Finalist, 2018
Interactive physiotherapy programmes in Virtual Reality that improve physical & neuro-rehabilitation.
Immersive Rehab uses Virtual Reality to achieve important gains in mobility and function beyond what can be achieved with current physical & neuro-rehabilitation practices, thereby focusing in particular on improving fine motor function. Immersive Rehab’s Virtual Reality Platform provides an engaging and motivating solution to the current limitations of physical rehab, in particular for people with significant neurological upper limb mobility limitations. By combining neuro- & physical rehab, it is possible to obtain important gains in mobility and function.
Immersive Rehab is all about empowering patients going through physical and neuro-rehabilitation and giving them more of their independence back, thereby also reducing referral times into physical rehab facilities which currently are on average between 3 and 9 months. Physical rehabilitation is often not an accessible, engaging and motivating activity to embark upon and engagement with and long term compliance can be a limiting factor in relation to treatment success.
Stroke patients and people with limited mobility in upper limbs for example often cannot engage with physical objects during physical rehab due to lack of strength which slows down their recovery process, as well as being very demoralising. It is important to offer people access to effective physical rehabilitation exercises and to keep people engaged into their physical rehabilitation programme as this is key in their recovery process.
If patients can see and have progress quantified it can provide positive reinforcement thereby preventing patients from becoming demoralised by their condition. They also have limited access to follow-up rehab once up and walking while still having a very limited upper limb mobility. Research has shown that retraining the brain can lead to important gains in mobility.
A key focus is on improving the fine motor skills, an area where current physiotherapy tools are not effective, and on reducing referral times into physical rehab facilities.
Currently, stroke patients for example gain on average only about 15% of their upper-limb mobility back post-stroke. By combining neuro- & physical rehab, it is possible to obtain important gains in mobility. When people enter the virtual world, they perform rehab exercises by interacting with virtual objects, something often not achievable in the real world.
By engaging a person’s brain into thinking that they are actually moving objects around, it is possible to tap into the neuroplasticity of their brain, i.e. ability to change and adapt, which can lead to important improvements of motor function.