Virtual reality gaming in rehabilitation after stroke – user experiences and perceptions

Disabil Rehabil. 2021 Aug 31:1-7. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2021.1972351. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: The present study explored participants’ experiences with and perceptions of using fully immersive head-mounted virtual reality (VR) gaming as rehabilitation after stroke.

METHODS: Four men and three women (median age 64 years) with chronic stroke and varying motor impairment (mild to severe) were interviewed after 10 weeks of VR training on the commercial HTC Vive system, focusing on the upper extremities. Inductive qualitative thematic analysis was performed.

RESULTS: The analysis revealed three main themes: playing the game, benefits and effects, and personalizing the game. Playing the game encompasses both the feeling of being immersed in the game and descriptions of the gaming being motivating and fun. Benefits and effects describe the participants’ expectations of potential benefits, the importance of getting feed-back, and the impact in daily life. Personalizing the game includes finding the right game and level, and the participants’ need for support to achieve full use of the training.

CONCLUSIONS: Participants with chronic stroke described the fully immersive VR gaming intervention as a fun and motivating way to improve their functioning in everyday life. Qualitative studies are needed to explore how people with stroke perceive VR gaming when it is implemented in real clinical environments.Clinical implicationsVR gaming was perceived as a positive and motivating rehabilitation after stroke.Getting feedback and perceiving benefits are essential parts of VR rehabilitation.Commercial fully immersive VR-games might be an option for stroke rehabilitation when the game can be personalized and support is available.

PMID:34465269 | DOI:10.1080/09638288.2021.1972351

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