Archive for category Virtual reality rehabilitation

[Abstract + References] Electromyography as a Suitable Input for Virtual Reality-Based Biofeedback in Stroke Rehabilitation – Conference paper

Abstract

Virtual reality (VR)-based biofeedback of brain signals using electroencephalography (EEG) has been utilized to encourage the recovery of brain-to-muscle pathways following a stroke. Such models incorporate principles of action observation with neurofeedback of motor-related brain activity to increase sensorimotor activity on the lesioned hemisphere. However, for individuals with existing muscle activity in the hemiparetic arm, we hypothesize that providing biofeedback of muscle signals, to strengthen already established brain-to-muscle pathways, may be more effective. In this project, we aimed to understand whether and when feedback of muscle activity (measured using surface electromyography (EMG)) might more effective compared to EEG biofeedback. To do so, we used a virtual reality (VR) training paradigm we developed for stroke rehabilitation (REINVENT), which provides EEG biofeedback of ipsilesional sensorimotor brain activity and simultaneously records EMG signals. We acquired 640 trials over eight 1.5-h sessions in four stroke participants with varying levels of motor impairment. For each trial, participants attempted to move their affected arm. Successful trials, defined as when their EEG sensorimotor desynchronization (8–24 Hz) during a time-limited movement attempt exceeded their baseline activity, drove a virtual arm towards a target. Here, EMG signals were analyzed offline to see (1) whether EMG amplitude could be significantly differentiated between active trials compared to baseline, and (2) whether using EMG would have led to more successful VR biofeedback control than EEG. Our current results show a significant increase in EMG amplitude across all four participants for active versus baseline trials, suggesting that EMG biofeedback is feasible for stroke participants across a range of impairments. However, we observed significantly better performance with EMG than EEG for only the three individuals with higher motor abilities, suggesting that EMG biofeedback may be best suited for those with better motor abilities.

References

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    Vourvopoulos, A., Bermúdezi Badia, S.: Motor priming in virtual reality can augment motor-imagery training efficacy in restorative brain-computer interaction: a within-subject analysis. J. Neuroeng. Rehabil. 13, 1–14 (2016).  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12984-016-0173-2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Spicer, R., Anglin, J., Krum, D.M., Liew, S.L.: REINVENT: a low-cost, virtual reality brain-computer interface for severe stroke upper limb motor recovery. In: Proceedings of IEEE Virtual Reality, pp. 385–386 (2017).  https://doi.org/10.1109/vr.2017.7892338
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[Abstract + References] Multimodal Head-Mounted Virtual-Reality Brain-Computer Interface for Stroke Rehabilitation – Conference paper

Abstract

Rehabilitation after stroke requires the exploitation of active movement by the patient in order to efficiently re-train the affected side. Individuals with severe stroke cannot benefit from many training solutions since they have paresis and/or spasticity, limiting volitional movement. Nonetheless, research has shown that individuals with severe stroke may have modest benefits from action observation, virtual reality, and neurofeedback from brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). In this study, we combined the principles of action observation in VR together with BCI neurofeedback for stroke rehabilitation to try to elicit optimal rehabilitation gains. Here, we illustrate the development of the REINVENT platform, which takes post-stroke brain signals indicating an attempt to move and drives a virtual avatar arm, providing patient-driven action observation in head-mounted VR. We also present a longitudinal case study with a single individual to demonstrate the feasibility and potentially efficacy of the REINVENT system.

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[ARTICLE] Efficacy and Brain Imaging Correlates of an Immersive Motor Imagery BCI-Driven VR System for Upper Limb Motor Rehabilitation: A Clinical Case Report – Full Text

To maximize brain plasticity after stroke, a plethora of rehabilitation strategies have been explored. These include the use of intensive motor training, motor-imagery (MI), and action-observation (AO). Growing evidence of the positive impact of virtual reality (VR) techniques on recovery following stroke has been shown. However, most VR tools are designed to exploit active movement, and hence patients with low level of motor control cannot fully benefit from them. Consequently, the idea of directly training the central nervous system has been promoted by utilizing MI with electroencephalography (EEG)-based brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). To date, detailed information on which VR strategies lead to successful functional recovery is still largely missing and very little is known on how to optimally integrate EEG-based BCIs and VR paradigms for stroke rehabilitation. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of an EEG-based BCI-VR system using a MI paradigm for post-stroke upper limb rehabilitation on functional assessments, and related changes in MI ability and brain imaging. To achieve this, a 60 years old male chronic stroke patient was recruited. The patient underwent a 3-week intervention in a clinical environment, resulting in 10 BCI-VR training sessions. The patient was assessed before and after intervention, as well as on a one-month follow-up, in terms of clinical scales and brain imaging using functional MRI (fMRI). Consistent with prior research, we found important improvements in upper extremity scores (Fugl-Meyer) and identified increases in brain activation measured by fMRI that suggest neuroplastic changes in brain motor networks. This study expands on the current body of evidence, as more data are needed on the effect of this type of interventions not only on functional improvement but also on the effect of the intervention on plasticity through brain imaging.

Introduction

Worldwide, stroke is a leading cause of adult long-term disability (Mozaffarian et al., 2015). From those who survive, an increased number is suffering with severe cognitive and motor impairments, resulting in loss of independence in their daily life such as self-care tasks and participation in social activities (Miller et al., 2010). Rehabilitation following stroke is a multidisciplinary approach to disability which focuses on recovery of independence. There is increasing evidence that chronic stoke patients maintain brain plasticity, meaning that there is still potential for additional recovery (Page et al., 2004). Traditional motor rehabilitation is applied through physical therapy and/or occupational therapy. Current approaches of motor rehabilitation include functional training, strengthening exercises, and range of movement exercises. In addition, techniques based on postural control, stages of motor learning, and movement patterns have been proposed such as in the Bobath concept and Bunnstrom approach (amongst others) (Bobath, 1990). After patients complete subacute rehabilitation programs, many still show significant upper limb motor impairment. This has important functional implications that ultimately reduce their quality of life. Therefore, alternative methods to maximize brain plasticity after stroke need to be developed.

So far, there is growing evidence that action observation (AO) (Celnik et al., 2008) and motor imagery (MI) improve motor function (Mizuguchi and Kanosue, 2017) but techniques based on this paradigm are not widespread in clinical settings. As motor recovery is a learning process, the potential of MI as a training paradigm relies on the availability of an efficient feedback system. To date, a number of studies have demonstrated the positive impact of virtual-reality (VR) based on neuroscientific grounds on recovery, with proven effectiveness in the stroke population (Bermúdez i Badia et al., 2016). However, patients with no active movement cannot benefit from current VR tools due to low range of motion, pain, fatigue, etc. (Trompetto et al., 2014). Consequently, the idea of directly training the central nervous system was promoted by establishing an alternative pathway between the user’s brain and a computer system.

This is possible by using electroencephalography (EEG)-based Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs), since they can provide an alternative non-muscular channel for communication and control to the external world (Wolpaw et al., 2002), while they could also provide a cost-effective solution for training (Vourvopoulos and Bermúdez, 2016b). In rehabilitation, BCIs could offer a unique tool for rehabilitation since they can stimulate neural networks through the activation of mirror neurons (Rizzolatti and Craighero, 2004) by means of action-observation (Kim et al., 2016), motor-intent and motor-imagery (Neuper et al., 2009), that could potentially lead to post-stroke motor recovery. Thus, BCIs could provide a backdoor to the activation of motor neural circuits that are not stimulated through traditional rehabilitation techniques.

In EEG-based BCI systems for motor rehabilitation, Alpha (8–12 Hz) and Beta (12–30 Hz) EEG rhythms are utilized since they are related to motor planning and execution (McFarland et al., 2000). During a motor attempt or motor imagery, the temporal pattern of the Alpha rhythms desynchronizes. This rhythm is also named Rolandic Mu-rhythm or the sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) because of its localization over the sensorimotor cortices. Mu-rhythms are considered indirect indications of functioning of the mirror neuron system and general sensorimotor activity (Kropotov, 2016). These are often detected together with Beta rhythm changes in the form of an event-related desynchronization (ERD) when a motor action is executed (Pfurtscheller and Lopes da Silva, 1999). These EEG patterns are primarily detected during task-based EEG (e.g., when the participant is actively moving or imagining movement) and they are of high importance in MI-BCIs for motor rehabilitation.

A meta-analysis of nine studies (combined N = 235, sample size variation 14 to 47) evaluated the clinical effectiveness of BCI-based rehabilitation of patients with post-stroke hemiparesis/hemiplegia and concluded that BCI technology could be effective compared to conventional treatment (Cervera et al., 2018). This included ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke in both subacute and chronic stages of stoke, between 2 to 8 weeks. Moreover, there is evidence that BCI-based rehabilitation promotes long-lasting improvements in motor function of chronic stroke patients with severe paresis (Ramos-Murguialday et al., 2019), while overall BCI’s are starting to prove their efficacy as rehabilitative technologies in patients with severe motor impairments (Chaudhary et al., 2016).

The feedback modalities used for BCI motor rehabilitation include: non-embodied simple two-dimensional tariffs on a screen (Prasad et al., 2010Mihara et al., 2013), embodied avatar representation of the patient on a screen or with augmented reality (Holper et al., 2010Pichiorri et al., 2015), neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) (Kim et al., 2016Biasiucci et al., 2018). and robotic exoskeletal orthotic movement facilitation (Ramos-Murguialday et al., 2013Várkuti et al., 2013Ang et al., 2015). In addition, it has been shown that multimodal feedback lead to a significantly better performance in motor-imagery (Sollfrank et al., 2016) but also multimodal feedback combined with motor-priming, (Vourvopoulos and Bermúdez, 2016a). However, there is no evidence which modalities are more efficient in stroke rehabilitation are.

Taking into account all previous findings in the effects of multimodal feedback in MI training, the purpose of this case study is to examine the effect of the MI paradigm as a treatment for post-stroke upper limb motor dysfunction using the NeuRow BCI-VR system. This is achieved through the acquisition of clinical scales, dynamics of EEG during the BCI treatment, and brain activation as measured by functional MRI (fMRI). NeuRow is an immersive VR environment for MI-BCI training that uses an embodied avatar representation of the patient arms and haptic feedback. The combination of MI-BCIs with VR can reinforce activation of motor brain areas, by promoting the illusion of physical movement and the sense of embodiment in VR (Slater, 2017), and hence further engaging specific neural networks and mobilizing the desired neuroplastic changes. Virtual representation of body parts paves the way to include action observation during treatment. Moreover, haptic feedback is added since a combination of feedback modalities could prove to be more effective in terms of motor-learning (Sigrist et al., 2013). Therefore, the target of this system is to be used by patients with low or no levels of motor control. With this integrated BCI-VR approach, severe cases of stroke survivors may be admitted to a VR rehabilitation program, complementing traditional treatment.

Methodology

Patient Profile

In this pilot study we recruited a 60 years old male patient with left hemiparesis following cerebral infarct in the right temporoparietal region 10 months before. The participant had corrected vision through eyewear, he had 4 years of schooling and his experience with computers was reported as low. Moreover, the patient was on a low dose of diazepam (5 mg at night to help sleep), dual antiplatelet therapy, anti-hypertensive drug and metformin. Hemiparesis was associated with reduced dexterity and fine motor function; however, sensitivity was not affected. Other sequelae of the stroke included hemiparetic gait and dysarthria. Moreover, a mild cognitive impairment was identified which did not interfere with his ability to perform the BCI-VR training. The patient had no other relevant comorbidities. Finally, the patient was undergoing physiotherapy and occupational therapy at the time of recruitment and had been treated with botulinum toxin infiltration 2 months before due to focal spasticity of the biceps brachii.

Intervention Protocol

The patient underwent a 3-weeks intervention with NeuRow, resulting in 10 BCI sessions of a 15 min of exposure in VR training per session. Clinical scales, motor imagery capability assessment, and functional -together with structural- MRI data had been gathered in three time-periods: (1) before (serving as baseline), (2) shortly after the intervention and (3) one-month after the intervention (to assess the presence of long-term changes). Finally, electroencephalographic (EEG) data had been gathered during all sessions, resulting in more than 20 datasets of brain electrical activity.

The experimental protocol was designed in collaboration with the local healthcare system of Madeira, Portugal (SESARAM) and approved by the scientific and ethic committees of the Central Hospital of Funchal. Finally, written informed consent was obtained from the participant upon recruitment for participating to the study but also for the publication of the case report in accordance with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki.

Assessment Tools

A set of clinical scales were acquired including the following:

1. Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). MoCA is a cognitive screening tool, with a score range between 0 and 30 (a score greater than 26 is considered to be normal) validated also for the Portuguese population, (Nasreddine et al., 2005).

2. Modified Ashworth scale (MAS). MAS is a 6-point rating scale for measuring spasticity. The score range is 0, 1, 1+, 2, 3, and 4 (Ansari et al., 2008).

3. Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA). FMA is a stroke specific scale that assesses motor function, sensation, balance, joint range of motion and joint pain. The motor domain for the upper limb has a maximum score of 66 (Fugl-Meyer et al., 1975).

4. Stroke Impact Scale (SIS). SIS is a subjective scale of the perceived stroke impact and recovery as reported by the patient, validated for the Portuguese population. The score of each domain of the questionnaire ranges from 0 to 100 (Duncan et al., 1999).

5. Vividness of Movement Imagery Questionnaire (VMIQ2). VMIQ2 is an instrument that assess the capability of the participant to perform imagined movements from external perspective (EVI), internal perspective imagined movements (IVI) and finally, kinesthetic imagery (KI) (Roberts et al., 2008).

NeuRow BCI-VR System

EEG Acquisition

For EEG data acquisition, the Enobio 8 (Neuroelectrics, Barcelona, Spain) system was used. Enobio is a wearable wireless EEG sensor with 8 EEG channels for the recording and visualization of 24-bit EEG data at 500 Hz and a triaxial accelerometer. The spatial distribution of the electrodes followed the 10–20 system configuration (Klem et al., 1999) with the following electrodes over the somatosensory and motor areas: Frontal-Central (FC5, FC6), Central (C1, C2, C3, C4), and Central-Parietal (CP5, CP6) (Figure 1A). The EEG system was connected via Bluetooth to a dedicated desktop computer, responsible for the EEG signal processing and classification, streaming the data via UDP through the Reh@Panel (RehabNet Control Panel) for controlling the virtual environment. The Reh@Panel is a free tool that acts as a middleware between multiple interfaces and virtual environments (Vourvopoulos et al., 2013).

FIGURE 1

Figure 1. Experimental setup, including: (A) the wireless EEG system; (B) the Oculus HMD, together with headphones reproducing the ambient sound from the virtual environment; (C) the vibrotactile modules supported by a custom-made table-tray, similar to the wheelchair trays used for support; (D) the visual feedback with NeuRow game. A written informed consent was obtained for the publication of this image.

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[Abstract] Vision-Based Serious Games and Virtual Reality Systems for Motor Rehabilitation: A Review Geared Toward a Research Methodology

ABSTRACT

Background

Nowadays, information technologies are being widely adopted to promote healthcare and rehabilitation. Owing to their affordability and use of hand-free controllers, vision-based systems have gradually been integrated into motor rehabilitation programs and have greatly drawn the interest of healthcare practitioners and the research community. Many studies have illustrated the effectiveness of these systems in rehabilitation. However, the report and design aspects of the reported clinical trials were disregarded.

Objective

In this paper, we present a systematic literature review of the use of vision-based serious games and virtual reality systems in motor rehabilitation programs. We aim to propose a research methodology that engineers can use to improve the designing and reporting processes of their clinical trials.

Methods

We conducted a review of published studies that entail clinical experiments. Searches were performed using Web of Science and Medline (PubMed) electronic databases, and selected studies were assessed using the Downs and Black Checklist and then analyzed according to specific research questions.

Results

We identified 86 studies and our findings indicate that the number of studies in this field is increasing, with Korea and USA in the lead. We found that Kinect, EyeToy system, and GestureTek IREX are the most commonly used technologies in studying the effects of vision-based serious games and virtual reality systems on rehabilitation. Findings also suggest that cerebral palsy and stroke patients are the main target groups, with a particular interest on the elderly patients in this target population. The findings indicate that most of the studies focused on postural control and upper extremity exercises and used different measurements during assessment.

Conclusions

Although the research community’s interest in this area is growing, many clinical trials lack sufficient clarity in many aspects and are not standardized. Some recommendations have been made throughout the article.

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[Abstract + References] Arm Games for Virtual Reality Based Post-stroke Rehabilitation – Conference paper

Abstract

Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. World Health Organization (WHO) published that the second leading of death is stroke accident and every year, 15 million people worldwide suffer from stroke attack, two-thirds of them have a permanent disability. Muscle impairment can be treated by intensive movements involving repetitive task, task-oriented and task-variegated. Conventional stroke rehabilitation is expensive, less engaging and at the same time need more time for the rehabilitation process and need more energy and time for the therapist to guide the stroke-survivor. Modern stroke rehabilitation is more promising and more effective with modern rehabilitation aids allowing the rehabilitation process to be faster, however, this therapist method can be obtained in the big cities. To cover the lack of rehabilitation process in this research will develop and improve post-stroke rehabilitation using games. This research using electromyography (EMG) device to analyze the muscle contraction during the rehabilitation process and using Kinect XBOX to record trajectory hands movements. Five games from movements sequence have designed and will be examined in this research. This games obtained two results, the first is the EMG signal and the second is trajectory data. EMG signal can recognize muscle contractions during playing game and the trajectory data can save the pattern of movements and showed the pattern to the monitor. EMG signal processing using time or frequency feature extractions is a good idea to obtain more information from muscle contractions, also velocity, similarities and error movements can be obtained by study the possible approaches.

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[ARTICLE] Virtual rehabilitation of upper extremity function and independence for stoke: a meta-analysis – Full Text

Abstract

We aimed to conduct a systematic literature review with a meta-analysis to investigate whether virtual reality (VR) approaches have beneficial effects on the upper extremity function and independent activities of stroke survivors. Experimental studies published between 2007 and 2017 were searched from two databases (EBSCOhost and PubMed). This study reviewed abstracts and assessed full articles to obtain evidence on qualitative studies. For the meta-analysis, the studies that estimated the standardized mean between the two groups analyzed the statistical values necessary for calculating the effect size. The present study also evaluated the statistical heterogeneity. In total, 34 studies with 1,604 participants were included, and the number of participants in each study ranged from 10 to 376. Nine studies were assessed to evaluate the quantitative statistical analysis for 698 patients with hemiparetic stroke. The results of the meta-analysis were as follows: The overall effect size was moderate (0.41, P<0.001). The 95% confidence interval ranged from 0.25 to 0.57. However, no significant heterogeneity and publication bias were observed. The results of this study showed that VR approaches are effective in improving upper extremity function and independent activities in stroke survivors.

 

INTRODUCTION

Stroke has varying severity and subsequent functional impact, which depends on the recovery process of an individual and the extent of neurological damage (Chollet et al., 1991). Several stroke survivors experience physical, cognitive, perceptual, and mental impairments that require a period of intensive rehabilitation and may develop permanent disabilities (Teasell et al., 2005). Some stroke survivors can undergo a short period of inpatient rehabilitation program for recovery of function, and others continue to recover for a long period or throughout their lifetimes (Cramer, 2011). Therefore, in the intensive rehabilitation of individuals with neurological diseases, extremely important considerations must be made because of the reintegration of family and social roles and recreational activities (French et al., 2016West and Bernhardt, 2012).
In rehabilitation settings, functional and task-specific trainings are the key elements of therapy and designed to assist stroke survivors in restoring their motor control to attain more-normal functional movement patterns (Teasell et al., 2005). Stroke survivors must have significant changes in the motor control and strength of the trunk and limbs, with an emphasis on the more-affected side and bilateral symmetric movement; these may be achieved using specific reeducation strategies (Veerbeek et al., 2014West and Bernhardt, 2012). In terms of stroke rehabilitation settings, most previous studies were performed in laboratory or clinical settings that are less complex than the outdoor environment (Cho and Lee, 2013). Laboratory and clinical settings are not appropriate for establishing some complex personal space and community surroundings to meet the demands of multiple tasks for stroke survivors (Demain et al., 2013Fung et al., 2012).
Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated environment that simulates a realistic experience for practicing functional tasks at intensities higher than those in traditional rehabilitation programs for stroke survivors (Chen et al., 2016). VR may help engage stroke survivors in a repetitive, intensive, and goal-oriented therapy to improve their functional disabilities, activity limitations, and participation restrictions, without considering the cost and burden associated with increasing the number of therapeutic sessions (Merians et al., 2002). Furthermore, VR provides real-time visual feedback for movements, thereby increasing engagement in enjoyable rehabilitation tasks. VR provides rehabilitative clinicians with new and effective therapeutic tools that can help treat various disabilities and enables remote therapy. VR-based interventions lead to clinical improvement and cortical reorganization through repetitive, adaptive, task-oriented, meaningful, and challenging exercises for stroke survivors (Laver et al., 2012).
As mentioned earlier, several virtual realities in rehabilitation interventions have been applied in the stroke population. However, the efficacy of VR rehabilitation interventions remains to be fully elucidated. In particular, studies on the qualitative and quantitative beneficial effects of VR on upper extremity function and independence in performing activities of daily living among patients with stroke are limited. The objectives of the present study were as follows: (a) to investigate the effectiveness of VR-based interventions in rehabilitation programs for restoring the upper extremity function of stroke survivors through a systematic review and (b) to examine the efficacy of VR-based interventions as part of a therapeutic rehabilitation program to improve upper limb function and independence in performing activities of daily living in stroke survivors by conducting a meta-analysis. Then, the VR-based interventions that are effective for improving upper limb function and independence in performing activities of daily living in stroke survivors were identified.[…]

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[ARTICLE] What is the impact of user affect on motor learning in virtual environments after stroke? A scoping review – Full Text

Abstract

Purpose

The purported affective impact of virtual reality (VR) and active video gaming (AVG) systems is a key marketing strategy underlying their use in stroke rehabilitation, yet little is known as to how affective constructs are measured or linked to intervention outcomes. The purpose of this scoping review is to 1) explore how motivation, enjoyment, engagement, immersion and presence are measured or described in VR/AVG interventions for patients with stroke; 2) identify directional relationships between these constructs; and 3) evaluate their impact on motor learning outcomes.

Methods

A literature search was undertaken of VR/AVG interventional studies for adults post-stroke published in Medline, PEDro and CINAHL databases between 2007 and 2017. Following screening, reviewers used an iterative charting framework to extract data about construct measurement and description. A numerical and thematic analytical approach adhered to established scoping review guidelines.

Results

One hundred fifty-five studies were included in the review. Although the majority (89%; N = 138) of studies described at least one of the five constructs within their text, construct measurement took place in only 32% (N = 50) of studies. The most frequently described construct was motivation (79%, N = 123) while the most frequently measured construct was enjoyment (27%, N = 42). A summative content analysis of the 50 studies in which a construct was measured revealed that constructs were described either as a rationale for the use of VR/AVGs in rehabilitation (76%, N = 38) or as an explanation for intervention results (56%, N = 29). 38 (76%) of the studies proposed relational links between two or more constructs and/or between any construct and motor learning. No study used statistical analyses to examine these links.

Conclusions

Results indicate a clear discrepancy between the theoretical importance of affective constructs within VR/AVG interventions and actual construct measurement. Standardized terminology and outcome measures are required to better understand how enjoyment, engagement, motivation, immersion and presence contribute individually or in interaction to VR/AVG intervention effectiveness.

Introduction

An increasing evidence base supports the use of virtual reality (VR) and active video gaming (AVG) systems to promote motor learning in stroke rehabilitation [1234]. However, practical and logistical barriers to VR/AVG implementation in clinical sites have been well described [567]. To support their use, researchers and developers often emphasize the potential advantages of VR/AVG systems over conventional interventions, including that these technologies may enhance a patient’s affective experience in therapy for the purpose of facilitating recovery [891011]. Examining the role of affective factors for motor learning is an emerging area of emphasis in rehabilitation [212131415].

VR/AVG use may enhance patients’ motivation to participate in rehabilitation as well as their engagement in therapeutic tasks. Motivation encourages action toward a goal by eliciting and/or sustaining goal-directed behavior [16]. Motivation can be intrinsic (derived from personal curiosity, importance or relevance of the goal) or extrinsic (elicited via external reward) [17]. Engagement is a cognitive and affective quality or experience of a user during an activity [16]. Many characteristics of VR/AVG play can contribute to user motivation and engagement, such as novelty, salient audiovisual graphics, interactivity, feedback, socialization, optimal challenge [14], extrinsic rewards, intrinsic curiosity or desire to improve in the game, goal-oriented tasks, and meaningful play [18].

Motivation and engagement are hypothesized to support motor learning either indirectly, through increased practice dosage leading to increased repetitive practice, or directly, via enhanced dopaminergic mechanisms influencing motor learning processes [1516]. Yet evidence is required to support these claims. A logical first step is to understand how these constructs are being measured within VR/AVG intervention studies. Several studies have used practice dosage or intensity as an indicator of motivation or engagement [192021]. To the authors’ knowledge, few have specifically evaluated the indirect mechanistic pathway by correlating measurement of patient motivation or engagement in VR/AVGs with practice dosage or intensity. While participants in VR/AVG studies report higher motivation as compared to conventional interventions [222324], conclusions regarding the relationship between motivation and intervention outcomes are limited by lack of consistency and rigour in measurement, including the use of instruments with poor psychometric properties [2223].

The body of research exploring the direct effects of engagement or motivation on motor learning is still in its infancy. Lohse et al. [16] were the first to evaluate whether a more audiovisually enriched as compared to more sterile version of a novel AVG task contributed to skill acquisition and retention in typically developing young adults, finding that participants who played under the enriching condition had greater generalized learning and complex skill retention. Self-reported engagement (User Engagement Scale; UES) was higher in the enriched group, but the only difference in self-reported motivation was in the Effort subscale of the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI), where the enriched group reported less effort as compared to the sterile group. The authors did not find a significant correlation between engagement, motivation and retention scores. A follow-up study using electroencephalography did not replicate the finding that the more enriched practice condition enhanced learning, it did show that more engaged learners had increased information processing, as measured by reduced attentional reserve [25].

Enjoyment, defined as ‘the state or process of taking pleasure in something’ [26], has less frequently been the subject of study in motor learning research, but has become popular as a way of describing patient interaction with VR/AVGs. Enjoyment may be hypothesized to be a precursor to both motivation and engagement. Given that the prevailing marketing of VR/AVGs is that they are ‘fun’ and ‘enjoyable’ [131427], it is important to evaluate its measurement in the context of other constructs.

Motivation, engagement and enjoyment in VR/AVGs may be influenced by the additional constructs of immersion and presence. Immersion is defined as “the extent to which the VR system succeeds in delivering an environment which refocuses a user’s sensations from the real world to a virtual world” [1328]. Immersion is considered as an objective construct referring to how the computational properties of the technology can deliver an illusion of reality through hardware, software, viewing displays and tracking capabilities [2930]. A recent systematic review [13] could not conclusively state effect of immersion on user performance. Immersion is distinct from presence, defined as the “psychological product of technological immersion” [31]. Presence is influenced by many factors, including the characteristics of the user, the VR/AVG task, and the VR/AVG system [28]. While presence is thought to be related to enhanced motivation and performance [32], relationships between this and other constructs of interest require exploration. Table 1 outlines definitions of constructs of interest to this scoping review.

Table 1

Construct definitions

Construct

Definition

Reference

Motivation

Motivation encourages action toward a goal by eliciting and/or sustaining goal-directed behavior.

[16]

Engagement

Engagement is a cognitive and affective quality or experience of a user during an activity.

[16]

Enjoyment

The state or process of taking pleasure in something.

[26]

Immersion

The extent to which the VR system succeeds in delivering an environment which refocuses a user’s sensations from the real world to a virtual world.

[1328]

Presence

The psychological product of technological immersion.

[31]

The purpose of this scoping review is to explore the impact of these affective constructs on motor learning after stroke. This greater understanding will enhance the clinical rationale for VR/AVG use and inform directions for subsequent research. Specifically, our objectives were to:

  1. 1.

    Describe how VR/AVG studies measure or report client enjoyment, motivation, engagement, immersion and presence.

  2. 2.

    Evaluate the extent to which motivation, enjoyment, engagement, immersion, and presence impact motor learning.

  3. 3.

    Propose directional relationships between enjoyment, motivation, engagement, immersion, presence and motor learning.

[…]

 

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Fig. 2Proposed relationships between the five constructs and motor learning

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[Abstract] Virtual Reality Environment for the Cognitive Rehabilitation of Stroke Patients

Abstract

We present ongoing work to develop a virtual reality environment for the cognitive rehabilitation of patients as a part of their recovery from a stroke. A stroke causes damage to the brain and problem solving, memory and task sequencing are commonly affected. The brain can recover to some extent, however, and stroke patients have to relearn to carry out activities of daily learning. We have created an application called VIRTUE to enable such activities to be practiced using immersive virtual reality. Gamification techniques enhance the motivation of patients such as by making the level of difficulty of a task increase over time. The design and implementation of VIRTUE is presented together with the results of a small acceptability study.

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[ARTICLE] FarMyo: A Serious Game for Hand and Wrist Rehabilitation Using a Low-Cost Electromyography Device – Full Text PDF

Abstract

One of the strategies used in recent years to increase the commitment and motivation of patients undergoing rehabilitation is the use of graphical systems, such as virtual environments and serious games. In addition to contributing to the motivation, these systems can simulate real life activities and provide means to measure and assess user performance. The use of natural interaction devices, originally conceived for the game market, has allowed the development of low cost and minimally invasive rehabilitation systems. With the advent of natural interaction devices based on electromyography, the user’s electromyographic data can also be used to build these systems. This paper shows the development of a serious game focused on aiding the rehabilitation process of patients with hand motor problems, targeting to solve problems related to cost, adaptability and patient motivation in this type of application. The game uses an electromyography device to recognize the gestures being performed by the user. A gesture recognition system was developed to detect new gestures, complementing the device’s own recognition system, which is responsible for interpreting the signals. An initial evaluation of the game was conducted with professional physiotherapists.

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[NEWS] New Gaming Platform Aims to Use Virtual Rehab to Help Stroke Survivors

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Researchers at UK-based University of East Anglia (UEA), in collaboration with Evolv Rehabilitation Technologies, have created a new virtual reality (VR) gaming platform designed to help improve the lives of stroke patients suffering from complex neurological syndromes caused by their stroke.

The new technology, which has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), was recently unveiled at RehabWeek in Toronto.

Around 30% to 50% of stroke survivors experience Œhemispatial neglect, which leaves people unaware of things located on one side of their body and greatly reduces their ability to live independently.

“A stroke can damage the brain, so that it no longer receives information about the space around one side of the world,” lead researcher Dr Stephanie Rossit, from UEA’s school of Psychology, explains in a media release from UEA.

“If this happens, people may not be aware of anything on one side, usually the same side they also lost their movement. This is called hemispatial neglect.

“These people tend to have very poor recovery and are left with long-term disability. Patients with this condition tell us that it is terrifying. They bump into things, they’re scared to use a wheelchair, so it really is very severe and life-changing.”

Current rehabilitation treatments involve different types of visual and physical coordination tasks (visuomotor) and cognitive exercises, ­ many of which are Œpaper and pen-based.

The new non-immersive VR technology being showcased updates these paper and pen tasks for the digital age – using videogame technology instead, per the release.

“We know that adherence is key to recovery – so we wanted to create something that makes it fun to stick to a rehabilitation task,” Roissit adds.

In one such game, the patient sees a random series of apples, some complete and some with a piece bitten off. The apples vibrate and move to provide greater stimulation to the patient.

“The aim for the patient is to choose the maximum number of complete apples that they see in the quickest time possible,” states David Fried, CEO of Evolv.

“A person with visual neglect would quite often only see a small number of correct targets to the right-hand side of the screen. Therapists can control the complexity of the game by increasing or reducing the number of apples on screen.”

As well as aiding diagnosis, the new game aims to improve rehabilitation by including elements such as scoring and rewards to engage the patient and improve adherence to their treatment.

Fried said: “Traditional rehabilitation treatment is quite monotonous and boring, so this gamification aspect is really important to help people stick with their treatment,” Fried adds.

“Our goal is to use technology to make rehabilitation fun and engaging, and we have applied this to our Spatial Neglect therapy solution. The great thing about it is that it can be used not only in clinics but also in patients’ homes, thereby giving them access to personalized rehabilitation without leaving their living room.”

The team has previously worked with stroke survivors, carers, and clinicians to assess the feasibility, usability, and acceptability of new gaming technology, per the release.

Dr Rossit said: ³This technology has the potential to improve both independence and quality of life of stroke survivors,” Rossit shares.

“This innovative therapy could also improve long-term care after stroke by providing a low-cost, enjoyable therapy that can be self-administered anywhere and anytime, without the need for a therapist to be present on every occasion.”

[Source: University of East Anglia]

 

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