The Use of Virtual Reality in Physical Therapy

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Virtual Reality (VR) has become common recreation in the arts and movies and now is successfully being implemented in the fields of medicine and psychology. This technology has also demonstrated potential in effective physical rehabilitation intervention. It can help physically handicapped individuals engage in activities via the VR’s safe environment.  

Although it is in its fetal stages, the use of VR has been increasing in facilities that provide physical therapies. The technology has proven successfully effective in patient rehabilitation techniques. In this article, we will look at how VR technology is helping to improve patient therapy in clinical settings.  

VR Technology and Advanced Patient Care

VR technology offers a virtual environment that is different from video screens. The main feature of the VR is physical interaction. The individual can interact with virtual objects within the virtual environment.  This interaction takes place through the use of pointers, joystick, or wearable mounted devices (WMD).

In some systems, additional aids, such as a body part (a hand or a leg) is displayed and help in interaction with the virtual environment. The viewpoint on the screen can be controlled by the individual through the VR application. Some of them also show a third person view of the individual that results in greater engagement with the virtual environment.  

According to Levac, a physical therapy professor at the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, the VR technology can help in movements of body parts that have been damaged by diseases or injured in an accident. The professor says that a number of challenging VR tasks are presented to the individuals that motivate them to improve. The virtual tasks are neither too difficult that makes them frustrated nor easy that makes them lose interest in the therapy.  

VR has been used for quite some time in physical rehabilitations. But the real question is, ‘have they been effective in providing the results?’

A study that was published last year in the American Physical Therapy Journal had examined findings of 13 different studies that measured stability and gain improvements of stroke patients using VR technology. A number of VR applications were evaluated including one that involved individuals walking on a treadmill while wearing a VR headset. The VR applications simulated real world trials, track, and sidewalk and contained virtual obstacles.  

The researchers found that most of the studies had found significant improvements in balance and gait using the VR applications. The improvements were found to be even more profound when they were combined with traditional physical therapy practices.  


VR gadgets are being successfully adopted in the clinical settings to aid in physical rehabilitation. The gadget helps in creating patient-specific physical training. The best thing about VR gadgets is that they allow variability in the training, which helps to maintain motivation levels of the individuals.

Whether the patient has suffered from amputation, joint replacement, arthritis, bone injuries, disc disease, and osteoporosis, VR physical therapy help in greatly accelerating the recovery process.  

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