Virtual Reality Enhanced Physical Therapy

Researchers: Andrew Johnson, Francesco Mantovani, Ryan Nishimoto, Simone Amico

Funding: The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab of Chicago

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab of Chicago worked with the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago to use virtual reality to help people needing rehabilitation be more enthusiastic and energetic when doing their exercises.

Using the VIVE head-mounted display, EVL researchers develop virtual reality worlds to augment the rehabilitation patients’ physical therapy spaces and sessions. The goal of this project is to increase patient interest and engagement, by supplementing physical therapy tasks and exercises with tasks incorporated into a number of different virtual worlds. Unity3D is used to build virtual environments, that are ‘mapped’ to the physical therapy areas (e.g. a physical balance beam is represented by a very narrow bridge over a stream in a forest; the patient steps onto the actual beam, but are stepping onto a virtual bridge in the VR world). Data about the patient’s movements and activities in these virtual worlds are visualized in real-time, allowing AbilityLab personnel to tailor the experience interactively. The enhanced rehabilitation experience intends to foster patient recovery and treatment success.

Date: January 1, 2018 - December 31, 2018
EVL director Maxine Brown explores a virtual world designed to enhance rehab patient treatment options.

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