[ARTICLE] Virtual Reality for Stroke Rehabilitation: Assessment, Training and the Effect of Virtual Therapy – Full Text HTML/PDF

The motor function impairment deriving from stroke injury has a negative impact on autonomy and on the activities of daily living. Several studies have demonstrated that learning new motor skills is important to induce neuroplasticity and functional recovery. To facilitate the activation of brain areas and consequently neuroplasticity, it may be advantageous to combine traditional motor rehabilitation with innovative technology, in order to promote motor re-learning and skill re-acquisition by means of an enhanced training. Following these principles, exercises should involve multiple sensory modalities exploiting the adaptive nature of the nervous system, in order to promote active patient participation. Movement re-learning could be improved by means of training in an enriched environment focused on optimizing the affordances between the motor system and the physical environment: virtual reality technologies allow for the possibility to create specific settings where the affordances are optimized. Several autors report that patients treated in virtual representation could, in both acute and chronic stroke, improve their arm motor function. Reinforced Feedback in a Virtual Environment (RFVE), can incorporate the elements necessary to maximize motor learning, such as repetitive and differentiated task practice, feedback of performance and results, and reinforcement of the motivation. The RFVE approach may lead to better rehabilitation outcomes in the treatment of the upper limb in stroke patients.

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