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About 

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Virtual reality (VR) is a trending, widely accessible, contemporary technology of increasing utility to biomedical and health applications. VR is the technological experience that allows for a full immersion in virtual spaces with which you can interact via specific wearable or using only your hand. A key feature of all VR applications is interaction.

VR ranges from non-immersive to fully immersive, depending on the degree to which the user is isolated from the physical surroundings when interacting with the virtual environment. Non-immersive virtual reality allows for interacting with the environment through mouse or joystick; immersive virtual reality, instead, uses tools that are connected to the human body in order to perform the same motor task.

Similarly in the realm of VR, Computer Vision (CV) applications have become critical in many industries, including healthcare. With its potential to aid humans in performing physical tasks with better accuracy and consistency, computer vision is increasingly being used across a wide range of applications. Digital Health and Physical Therapy in particular seem to be awakening to the myriad possibilities and benefits of utilizing computer vision technology, for the benefit of providers and patients.

The next step is Mixed Reality (MR).  MR is a user environment in which physical reality and digital content are combined in a way that enables interaction with and among real-world and virtual objects.

Application
in
Rehabilitation

The use of VR technology in rehabilitation derives from research in computational neuroscience involving motor learning mechanisms. VR provides real-time visual feedback for movements, thereby increasing engagement in enjoyable rehabilitation tasks.

VR provides alternative rehabilitation programs with new and effective therapeutic tools that can improve the functional abilities in a wide variety of rehabilitation patients in a neurological setting, offering several features, such as goal-oriented tasks and repetition. The use of VR environments for virtual augmented exercise has recently been proposed as having the potential to increase exercise behavior in older adults and it also has the potential to influence cognitive abilities in this population segment. Therefore, VR represents a real opportunity for the cognitive rehabilitation of neurological patients with different neuropsychological symptoms,

especially in attention, memory, problem-solving and executive dysfunction, and in behavioral impairments.

Non-immersive VR systems have been studied as a therapeutic tool for improving symptoms in neurological disorders and have shown potential to promote cognitive and motor improvements even in advanced stages of different neurological diseases (e.g., stroke, Alzheimer and Parkinson disease (AD, PD), multiple sclerosis (MS), and traumatic brain injury) because of these characteristics.

By the Numbers

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The VR market in healthcare is valued at over $600 million (US).

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It’s expected to reach $6.2 billion by 2029 growing at a CAGR of 38.7%.

Rehabilitation is among the key directions of healthcare VR, driven by the opportunity of advanced progress monitoring, controlled remote rehabilitation, and increased patients’ motivation.

According to the research, VR-based software helped patients improve dynamic balance by 20% (on Tinetti Scale) and static balance by 40% (on Berg Scale) and decrease fatigue scores by 47% (on the Fatigue Impact Scale) and levels of anxiety by 13% (on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale).

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