Virtual Reality as Therapy?

Written by Sierra Zimmer

There are many people trying to come up with ways to make therapy easier and quicker. Virtual reality is being looked into for use in therapy, as it helps motivate participants. D.E. Levac and J. Galvin state in their article “When Is Virtual Reality “Therapy”?” that virtual reality gives participants “goal-oriented VR games or tasks, and competitions against multiple players” (2). These two also say that virtual reality “may enhance the role of the therapist such that he/she can better concentrate on observing patient performance and promoting effective movement strategies even if the task is complex” (2).

R.O. Gutierrez et al. talk in their article “A telerehabilitation program by virtual reality-video games improves balance and postural control in multiple sclerosis patients." of an experiment done on 50 patients, 25 of which “received physiotherapy treatment twice a week (40 min per session)” and the other 25 “received telerehabilitation treatment using the Xbox 360® console monitored via video conference. [They] attended 40 sessions, four sessions per week (20 min per session)” (1). After this experiment it was revealed that “visual preference, the contribution of vestibular information, mean response time and Tinetti test yielded significant differences in the experimental group,” showing that with the same amount of rehabilitation, virtual reality improves more aspects of the patient than normal physiotherapy (1).

Furthermore, David Opris et al. introduces virtual reality exposure therapy in the article “Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy In Anxiety disorders: A Quantitative Meta-Analysis.” They express that virtual reality exposure therapy “is a new tool for conducting exposure therapy with the help of a computer-generated virtual environment, allowing for the systematic exposure to the feared stimuli within a contextually relevant setting” (2).This means that VRET is helpful with allowing organized exposure to the thing that someone fears, within a relevant situation. Throughout their testing, the “outcomes of the VRET interventions in anxiety disorders, stating that only in the case of fear of flying and acrophobia there are enough data available to conclude that VRET is effective” (2).

        Virtual reality is a new and magnificent way to put people through physiotherapy, and it is being proven useful. This is a revolutionizing tool. With the help of virtual reality, therapy may take less time and can actually be fun. Technology is making things easier and giving us separate, more interesting ways to deal with and enhance aspects of our lives.

Bibliography

Gutiérrez, Rosa Ortiz, et al. "A telerehabilitation program by virtual reality-video games improves balance and postural control in multiple sclerosis patients."NeuroRehabilitation 33.4 (2012): 545-554.

Levac, Danielle E., and Jane Galvin. "When is virtual reality “therapy”?."*Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation* 94.4 (2013): 795-798.

Opriş, David, et al. "Virtual reality exposure therapy in anxiety disorders: a quantitative meta‐analysis." Depression and anxiety 29.2 (2012): 85-93.