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Scientific research

Virtual Reality to augment physiotherapy programmes

Patient at physiotherapy following a rehabilitation programme wearing a virtual reality headset

 A meta-analysis and systematic literature review of virtual reality rehabilitation programs

In recent strides within the domain of physical rehabilitation, an intriguing advancement unfolds through the application of virtual reality rehabilitation (VRR) programs. These innovative programs engage patients in practice behaviors, immersing them within computer-simulated environments that faithfully replicate physical realities, whether real or imagined. While enthusiasm abounds, a veil of uncertainty shrouds VRR programs, leaving crucial questions uncharted: Are VRR programs genuinely effective? And if so, what underpins their efficacy? The present article embarks on a rigorous meta-analysis, scrutinizing the overarching efficacy of VRR programs, along with their specific prowess in shaping four distinct rehabilitation outcomes: motor control, balance, gait, and strength. In tandem, a methodical exploration of the literature unravels the potential mechanisms underpinning the triumphs or tribulations of VRR program implementations. Revelations showcase VRR programs surmounting their conventional counterparts in cultivating physical outcome advancements. Correspondingly, three catalyzing mechanisms—marked by excitement, physical fidelity, and cognitive fidelity—surface as potential architects of these enhanced outcomes. However, the empirical fabric substantiating the role of these mechanisms in orchestrating superior rehabilitation results remains a frontier awaiting empirical exploration. As these findings echo across the realms of research and application, they beckon towards potential trajectories for future exploration and implementation strategies.