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A new study revealed that virtual reality human-computer interfaces help stroke patients recover their arm function as well as their ability to perform certain tasks. This was brought to light as patients who underwent virtual reality therapy performed better compared to those who didn’t.

Virtual reality interfaces are computer-generated instruments that allow people to be set in a particular environment. They are mostly used for computer video games but were only recently used as a therapeutic device following a good showing.

Lead researcher Kate Laver of the Department of Rehabilitation and Aged Care at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia says, “Virtual reality and interactive video gaming may have some advantages over traditional therapy as they may give people an opportunity to practice everyday activities that cannot be practiced within the hospital environment.”

Ms. Laver and her colleagues from both Australia and the U.S. found out that virtual reality therapy was able to improve the patients’ ability to perform everyday functions like taking a shower and dressing. In addition, virtual reality therapy was able to improve the patients’ arm function compared to conventional therapy.

“These positive effects were found soon after the end of the treatment and it is not clear whether the effects are long-lasting,” Ms. Laver said.

While virtual reality therapy showed positive results, it failed to establish sufficient evidence relating to the patients’ hand grip strength and walking speed.

“Virtual reality looks as if it could be a promising therapeutic tool, but we need a lot more data before we can assess which aspects of virtual reality are the most important and assess how long the effects last,” Ms. Laver added.


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