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Add-Life Research - Access & Adherence
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A meta-analysis and systematic literature review of virtual reality rehabilitation programs

In this study a systematic review was performed with the objective to determine the mechanisms which contribute to the success and failures of VR programs in rehabilitation. The study determined that 3 mechanisms lead to the success of a VR program which include excitement, physical fidelity, and cognitive fidelity.


This review found that increased excitement led to increased motivation to complete the rehabilitation training and that the if participants found the training “boring” they may even stop training all together. They found that VR led to an increase in excitement and immersive VR, such as head mount displays, or gamification resulted in a positive reaction from participants compared to conventional rehabilitation.


The second mechanism that the review found was physical fidelity. In conventional therapy patients are often asked to complete practice behaviours that are not similar to typical activities. The authors of the studies included in the review emphasise the significance of “learning by imitation” and believe that rehabilitation training has the potential to be more successful when patients perform behaviours that mimic the desired task.


VR programs can provide a solution to this issue by creating various environments and scenarios where patients can perform tasks that are very similar to, or exactly, the behaviour of the realistic desired task. The final mechanism is improved cognitive fidelity. In conventional rehabilitation, patients often undergo training in a stimulus free environment which is not reflective of the environment outside a clinical setting.


In VR rehabilitation, due to the flexibility of being able to alter the environment, scenarios can be changed to add elements that require cognitive attention, thus creating a more realistic setting.

Matt C.Howard- The University of South Alabama (2017) 

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