Virtual Reality Interventions to Improve Function After Stroke

Virtual Reality Interventions to Improve Function After Stroke

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-9251-2.ch016
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


Stroke is the most common neurological disease and one of the most common fatal diseases in the world. Stroke patients suffer from several physical, cognitive, and sensory complications that impact their functionality and independence in daily activities and, consequently, can reduce their quality of life. Given this impact, it is important to assess the various ways to ensure effective and satisfactory rehabilitation for the stroke person. Virtual reality has been proven in recent times as a promising tool in stroke motor rehabilitation, being effective with its immersive elements and, at the same time, motivating patients. With all this in mind, this chapter aimed to analyze the current scientific evidence of Virtual Reality intervention for functional rehabilitation of stroke patients.
Chapter Preview


Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that is used in many fields and includes various devices, hardware and software. It is used in research, education, evaluation and therapeutic intervention. The growing number of publications shows the interest of researchers and clinicians in VR (Caiana et al., 2016). Since VR technology is seen as a potential method for stroke rehabilitation, it has recently been used mostly in clinical rehabilitation as it is considered a promising approach in stroke rehabilitation (Kannan et al., 2019; Lee, 2019; Leng et al., 2022; Oh et al., 2019; Zhang et al., 2021), due to its qualities of immersion, interactivity, and creativity (Aminov et al., 2018; Qian et al., 2020).

Post-stroke survivors’ management requires early recovery intervention. It should begin as soon as the patient stabilizes and must continue after being back into the community (Bernhardt et al., 2008; Langhorne et al., 2018). Evidence suggests that the more they have access to their rehabilitation, the more benefits they have in their functionality and Quality of Life (QOL) (Mohd Nordin et al., 2014).

Stroke rehabilitation's finest efforts and outcomes may be undone if the community is not sufficiently mobilized (Björkdahl, 2007). When presented with a community-level rehabilitative opportunity, the incidence of functional deterioration can be reduced, with an improvement in Activities of Daily Living (ADL) (Legg, 2004; Walker et al., 2013). Additionally, patients can increase their QOL measures (Fjæartoft et al., 2004). Despite these benefits, it is necessary to include new motivational interventions, otherwise stroke survivors might not be motivated to continue repetitive and mundane therapy at home (Singh et al., 2013). VR can be a technology capable of performing self-administered exercises while bringing enjoyment and motivation to the rehabilitation (Ward et al., 2015).

Performing exercises with VR games in stroke survivors seems to be feasible and beneficial (Singh et al., 2017). Balance, functional mobility (Kim et al., 2016; Singh et al., 2013; Singh et al., 2012), and Upper Limb (UL) function (Hijmans et al., 2011; Singh et al., 2017) may be improved in stroke survivors who receive VR intervention in addition to standard physical rehabilitation (Ahmad et al., 2019). VR Games that mimic some aspects of standard neurorehabilitation programs could provide a platform for acquiring these skills. VR games could also be used as a substitute for certain parts of standard physical rehabilitation to maintain or further improve motor function and ADL in stroke survivors (Singh et al., 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Serious Games: Games where the primary objective is not the entertainment, but rather with the aim of creating important challenges for rehabilitation.

Impairment: Lack of capacity of an individual to perform an activity.

Motor Function: Capacity of the body to perform a predetermined movement.

Stroke: Results of an abrupt interruption or drastic decrease of the supplied blood to the brain, depriving the cells of the oxygen and nutrients essentials to their function.

Virtual Reality: Technology, generated by computers, that allows the participants to be immersed in a virtual environment by displaying scenes and objects that look real.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL): Set of activities that are part of daily life of every individual, includes selfcare, bathe and others.

Rehabilitation: The process of restore someone to its former state by enabling their previous abilities.

Tele-Rehabilitation: Utilization of technologies to provide rehabilitation from distance.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: