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Scientific research

VR’s effect on acute pain in adults

Patient wearing virtual reality headset during treatment

Exploring Virtual Reality Rehabilitation Programs: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis and Systematic Examination of the Literature

In the realm of physical rehabilitation, a recent stride forward emerges in the form of virtual reality rehabilitation (VRR) programs. These programs engage patients in practice behaviors, leveraging computer-simulated environments that mirror real or imagined worlds. Despite the enthusiasm surrounding VRR, enigmas shroud its true potential. Notably, two pivotal queries persist unanswered: Are VRR programs genuinely efficacious? If affirmative, what underpins their effectiveness? Within this context, the current article undertakes a meticulous meta-analysis, probing the efficacy of VRR programs at large, while meticulously assessing their capacity to cultivate four distinct rehabilitation outcomes: motor control, balance, gait, and strength. Concurrently, a systematic literature review delves into the mechanisms possibly propelling the triumphs or failures of VRR programs. Outcomes unveil the ascendancy of VRR programs over conventional rehabilitation methods in shaping physical outcomes. Correspondingly, three mechanisms—namely, exhilaration, physical fidelity, and cognitive fidelity—are posited as catalysts for these enhanced outcomes. However, empirical substantiation to validate their role in eliciting superior rehabilitation results remains a frontier yet to be explored. The inferences drawn from these findings reverberate through the landscape of research and practice, paving the way for potential directions of inquiry and application.