Virtual reality comes to medicine: how you can improve rehabilitation exercises

Scientists from the Carlos III University of Madrid design a virtual reality prototype to improve shoulder rehabilitation exercises.

When Facebook acquired the Oculus Rift for $ 2 billion, interest in the virtual reality and augmented reality skyrocketed. Not surprisingly, the movements of Zuckerberg’s company, along with those of Google, heralded a constant and interesting growth of an expanding industry. Analysts such as TrendForce raised a year ago that the virtual reality market could reach 70,000 million dollars in 2020. Beyond the economic data, what interest can virtual reality have in our lives?

Like all new technology, virtual reality is still in its embryonic state, although it is already considered one of the five great advances that we will see in 2016. Some of its hypothetical applications have been tested in fields as diverse as space exploration or even in video game development. A new project, led by the University Carlos III of Madrid, demonstrates the potential that this technology could have in our health care.

Scientists have devised a virtual reality prototype with the aim of improve motor rehabilitation of the shoulder. And the first tests have been successful: it seems that this technological advance not only improves recovery exercises and the strength of patients, but also shortens rehabilitation times.

As commented Alejandro Baldominos to the SINC Agency, “an evaluation has been carried out with physiotherapists and the response has been very positive.” The virtual reality system uses the Intel RealSense motion sensor and Oculus Rift DK2 virtual reality glasses. The designed prototype, presented in the Procedia Computer Science magazine and at an international scientific congress on the application of new technologies in the field of health (HCist), focuses on the movements of shoulder adduction and abduction.

Thanks to virtual reality, the patient acts as if he were a goalkeeper in a soccer game. For this reason, he must stop the balls that are thrown at him in the game, with which he must practice the movements that we mentioned. So you can use the UC3M system to have a fun time while working on motor recovery of your shoulder. Undoubtedly, one more sample of the future of virtual reality and its applications in the field of medicine, although more trials are needed to prove the direct benefits of this technological advance.

Images | BagoGames (Flickr), eVRydayVR (Flickr)