Virtual Reality Technology for Assessment and Treatment of Rehabilitation Patients: Considerations for Research


1. Strengths of virtual reality applications in rehabilitation. The past decade has witnessed burgeoning interest in the use of virtual reality (VR) technology for assessment and treatment of rehabilitation patients. VR applications have a number of desirable features from a rehabilitation perspective. First, VR presents an opportunity to create assessment and rehabilitation scenarios that incorporate naturalistic challenges and are highly relevant to real-world functioning. For example, a number of virtual homes, classrooms, cities, and kitchens have been produced, and some are wellcorrelated with performance in the real-world environment (Rizzo et al. 2004). Second, VR permits experimental control over stimulus timing, visual appearance, auditory attributes, and other stimulus characteristics. These attributes can be manipulated in service of a number of goals; for example, to optimize similarity to real-world functional environments, parametrically vary or titrate aspects of the stimuli along some desired dimension, and/or test specific hypotheses about the role of various environmental factors in patterns of performance. VR applications also permit delivery of feedback to patients on a desired schedule (e.g., immediately, or with reference to an automated schedule), and provided in the desired sensory modalities, for example, via audition or vision. The virtual environment (VE) additionally allows the assessment or training procedure to be temporarily “paused” for the purpose of evaluation and discussion with the patient or rehabilitation staff. VE’s can be developed to incorporate game-like elements that may improve patient motivation to participate in therapy, and may be used for self-guided independent training for continued practice after discharge from the rehabilitation hospital. Thus, VR appears both well-suited to rehabilitation and worthy of additional research.

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Buxbaum2008VirtualRT, title={Virtual Reality Technology for Assessment and Treatment of Rehabilitation Patients: Considerations for Research}, author={Laurel J. Buxbaum}, year={2008} }