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Researchers have long seen the potential of virtual reality in rehabilitating patients with movement disorders. But do treatments using VR have advantages over traditional physical therapy?

Danielle Levac at Northeastern University’s ReGame laboratory is trying to answer that question.

“What we don’t know enough of is when you learn a skill in a virtual environment, to what extent does that actually help you get better at that skill in real life?” she said.


Levac’s work focuses on children with cerebral palsy and other movement disorders, and to measure any success, she first must come up with a baseline.

On a recent day, Levac was putting 9-year-old Mattea through a series of games developed by the lab to see how she might ordinarily expect a child to perform.


While VR won’t replace traditional physical therapy, Levac sees its promise.

“I think that these games can provide a very useful adjunct that can potentially offer some extra benefits,” she said.

  • Excellent note !. I would like to have e-mail address of researcher Danielle Levac ( Is she a PT ?) because I am a practitioner that use virtual reality for rehabilitation,specially in adults and I have some questions for her. Thanks very much !.

  • Alex you have a great multimedia VR application article, thanks.
    It makes one wonder! I just would like to bring up a few related details for everone’s enlightment.
    What if(s) a young VR trained/ educated, sports player has an injury, cause PTSD:
    i. Would she/he be better equipped to prevent that injury?
    ii. Would the young player be capable of identify symptoms earlier than a none VR trained/educated player?
    iii. If under pain medication, injury movement restriction could those PTSD early symptoms be masked, thus not timely felt, experienced, reported, diagnosed and/or treated appropriately? Would VR training make a difference then?
    iv. Under what criteria-condition and time from injury a baseline shall be established to be credible?
    v. Shall a pre-VR training and pre-injury base line be established? How would the two differ?
    vi. What benefit/outcome can be expected if VR training was done post injury?
    I know injury diagnosis requires proper patient baselining, test and evaluation before a successful therapy treatment plan, subsequently and incrementally monitoring progress.
    vii. Should baseline be standardized for medical terminology used, and accurate concise patient inputs to follow patient’s timelines ?
    viii. Should proper baselining along with related test become a first order of business before VR training, before injury, before multi drug treatment or long term drug prescription?
    I am all for VR and then question is it then ethical to include AI and DNA to mRNA test complements to properly diagnose/present with evidence?

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