Affiliations: [a] Clinical Health and Nutrition Centre (CHANCE), School of Science, Institute of Technology (IT) Sligo, Ireland
| [b] Neuroplasticity Research Group, Clinical Health and Nutrition Centre (CHANCE), School of Science, Institute of Technology (IT) Sligo, Ireland
Corresponding author: Mr John O’Brien, Clinical Health and Nutrition Centre (CHANCE), Neuroplasticity Research Group, School of Science, Institute of Technology (IT) Sligo, Ireland. Tel.: +353 719155222; E-mail: [email protected].
Abstract: In Ireland, stroke is the leading cause of disability with 5000–6000 new stroke survivors each year requiring rehabilitation. While clinical rehabilitation programmes have been proven effective in motor re-learning, barriers exist in the sustainability of regular and repetitive behavioural activities. A common barrier to effective rehabilitation is patient motivation with repetitive training in itself often described by patients as boring and time consuming. Virtual reality is the use of “interactive simulations created with computer hardware and software to present users with opportunities to engage in environments that appear and feel similar to real world objects and events”. With recent advancements in digital technology; gaming and virtual reality are attracting much attention as innovative solutions to the resourcing and motivational challenges facing conventional clinical stroke therapy. In this commentary, we highlight the potential of immersive and non-immersive virtual reality in the rehabilitation after stroke. The value of virtual reality may not lie in replacing conventional therapy but in providing an alternative method of therapy that increases rehabilitation activity time and motivates users into repetitive practice. Such a therapy would be even more advantageous in the sub-acute and chronic phases of recovery when patients have limited access to further rehabilitation.