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The Newest Technology Impacting Physical Therapy - Virtual Reality

Updated: Sep 4, 2018



Digital technologies are increasingly becoming more important in the medical sphere every single day. Already, technologies like telemedicine have proven to be an effective method of treatment and has quickly gained in popularity over the years proving that technology can swiftly replace old systems with new, more efficient methods of treatment. Now, a new technology called Virtual Reality is coming into the therapy world and is changing it forever.


HOW IS VR IMPACTING PHYSICAL THERAPY?

Virtual Reality (VR) is now being used by physical therapists for the successful treatment of stroke victims, walking disorders and back pain. The technology has been shown to improve the patients motor learning and coordination skills by using gamified, immersive environments that have been created to help patients suffering from pain and injury relearn the use of their limbs in a way that is motivating and fun.


WHY IT MATTERS

Lets be honest, most times physical therapy can be a painful and overwhelming experience. With VR, the patient is able to experience a three-dimensional world surrounding their vision that is quite convincing to the sense's. Many people report that they actually feel present in another environment, separate from reality. This is the element that aids in eliminating pain during exercises and encourages more repeat workouts. For example, if the patient was exercising their lower limbs, they would be able to appear as if they are walking on a beach or in a forest instead of on a boring treadmill. In another scenario, if the patient was exercising their upper extremities, then they could experience the thrill of being rewarded for successfully climbing up a mountain. Games like this provide motivation at home for the patient to continue exercising, enabling them with visual data on how they are improving their range of motion. These type of "experiences" help to keep the patient on the right path outside of the treatment room, which is a huge bonus because studies have shown that only 30% of exercises get accomplished after leaving rehabilitation.




What this will do to the therapy industry is still unknown but it is obvious that there is enormous potential for this technology to impact it in a large way.


What do you think? Leave your comments down below to start a conversation.


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