VR techniques help with stroke rehabilitation


Chinese researchers have developed a new method to facilitate stroke rehabilitation through the utilization of virtual reality (VR) techniques, according to a recent research article published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics. 

The three months after a stroke is the golden period of rehabilitation and is crucial for motor function recovery and remodeling, said Li Xiaoguang, an author of the article and also a professor at Beihang University. But the recovery, mostly passive rehabilitation, is unsatisfactory since a majority of early stroke patients have limited motor capacity and few options for therapeutic training. 

According to the research article, VR techniques are considered to significantly enhance motor imagery training by creating a strong illusion of action for central sensory stimulation. 

The researchers from Beihang University used surface electromyography (sEMG) of contralateral wrist movement to trigger virtual ankle movement through an improved data-driven approach with a continuous sEMG signal for fast and accurate intention recognition. 

The VR interactive system can provide feedback training for stroke patients in the early stages even if there is no active ankle movement, the article stated. 

The researchers found that compared to the 2D condition, the VR significantly increased the degree of kinesthetic illusion and body ownership of the patients, and improved the motor imagery performance and motor memory. 

Furthermore, using contralateral wrist sEMG signals as trigger signals for virtual ankle movement enhanced the patients' sustained attention and motivation during repetitive tasks, according to the article. 

A total of 64 early stroke patients were enrolled in the clinical trial. The VR interactive system helped more than 95 percent of the patients achieve vivid motor imagery performance. 

This research provides an effective option for active rehabilitation training for severe hemiplegia patients in the early stages.

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency

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