Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Immersive VR for upper-extremity rehabilitation in patients with neurological disorders: a scoping review.

BACKGROUND: Neurological disorders, such as stroke and chronic pain syndromes, profoundly impact independence and quality of life, especially when affecting upper extremity (UE) function. While conventional physical therapy has shown effectiveness in providing some neural recovery in affected individuals, there remains a need for improved interventions. Virtual reality (VR) has emerged as a promising technology-based approach for neurorehabilitation to make the patient's experience more enjoyable. Among VR-based rehabilitation paradigms, those based on fully immersive systems with headsets have gained significant attention due to their potential to enhance patient's engagement.

METHODS: This scoping review aims to investigate the current state of research on the use of immersive VR for UE rehabilitation in individuals with neurological diseases, highlighting benefits and limitations. We identified thirteen relevant studies through comprehensive searches in Scopus, PubMed, and IEEE Xplore databases. Eligible studies incorporated immersive VR for UE rehabilitation in patients with neurological disorders and evaluated participants' neurological and motor functions before and after the intervention using clinical assessments.

RESULTS: Most of the included studies reported improvements in the participants rehabilitation outcomes, suggesting that immersive VR represents a valuable tool for UE rehabilitation in individuals with neurological disorders. In addition, immersive VR-based interventions hold the potential for personalized and intensive training within a telerehabilitation framework. However, further studies with better design are needed for true comparison with traditional therapy. Also, the potential side effects associated with VR head-mounted displays, such as dizziness and nausea, warrant careful consideration in the development and implementation of VR-based rehabilitation programs.

CONCLUSION: This review provides valuable insights into the application of immersive VR in UE rehabilitation, offering the foundation for future research and clinical practice. By leveraging immersive VR's potential, researchers and rehabilitation specialists can design more tailored and patient-centric rehabilitation strategies, ultimately improving the functional outcome and enhancing the quality of life of individuals with neurological diseases.

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