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How is virtual reality therapy used in stroke rehabilitation?

Virtual reality environments allow stroke survivors to practice newly regained skills with the visual feedback of real-world situations, while remaining in a safe and controlled environment. For example, a patient wears a visual device that simulates a three-dimensional visual scene, such as the inside of an elevator. Diodes placed on the patient's arms track movements within the virtual space, allowing the patient to practice pointing and touching a target. Another virtual environment may conjure a busy sidewalk, allowing patients to practice walking while avoiding stationary and moving targets in a distracting environment.

There are few findings so far on the effectiveness of virtual reality therapy for stroke rehabilitation, but one early study in the journal Stroke documented positive changes in brain reorganization as well as locomotor recovery.

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