Neuro Rehab VR,
Keywords: virtual reality, multimodal therapy, mental health, rehabilitation
Summary:Research has shown that fully immersive 3D environments provide significant experiential benefits in support of physical rehabilitation and mental health for users in a myriad of environments. Studies are underway now to identify the benefits of movement in preventing injury and decreasing post-surgical recovery time as a form of “prehabilitation.” Unfortunately, most “exercise plans,” or other physical conditioning programs, are abandoned by users due to boredom or a lack of interest. The use of 3D immersive environments alleviates these obstructions by linking the concepts of gamification and physical conditioning. This enables the user to participate in fully immersive environments that simulate classical conditioning movements. Since the user is competing against his or herself, the user is motivated to participate longer and achieve greater physical fitness outcomes than anticipated. The use of a VR headset ensures a small physical footprint with access to a myriad of activities that support specific motion and movement goals. Activities can be focused to target a range of physical fitness goals across the whole spectrum of human potential– from restoring range of motion after an injury, to maximizing range of motion by athletes and elite users. The VR environment can be adjusted to hypersensitive levels for healing, while also enabling situational adjustments like speed and exercise intensity enabling greater performance gains by the user. Because the environment is simulated and virtual, each exercise can be modified to push the user beyond the current range of human capabilities. These types of environmental adjustments enable the user to grow skill sets on a multiplanar level. For example, a user can both improve hand-eye coordination and decrease visual target acquisition times with simple adjustments to an already existing technology platform. Virtual reality has long been recognized as a comprehensive tool for managing multiple mental health challenges including PTSD, suicide prevention, pain, anxiety, and depression. In fact, studies have shown that using VR to alleviate stress provided significant results for front-line staff during the COVID pandemic response. Using the same small physical footprint that provides a myriad of physical activities, mental health interventions can be provided to users to support a variety of challenges across ever-changing environments. Psychiatric Times identifies four areas we should manage in our lives to better enable ourselves to be in the best mental state possible including: sleep, diet, stress management and exercise. We propose combining commercially available physical training activities and mental wellness activities in an immersive 3D environment with a virtual reality headset and minimal handheld sensors. By combining the effectiveness of VR in both physical and mental health practices as evidenced by the available and growing body of research available for clinical virtual reality modalities, better outcomes for the users could be achieved for physical, emotional and mental health goals across a wide variety of user populations in a wide variety of environments.