Sounds a little like a new Marvel storyline, so why do we mention it when talking about exercise and rehabilitation? Virtual reality therapy is what I am talking about, most of you will know what this is and no its not the olden day holographic view finders. These days technology has advanced so far that we can put on a set of goggles and be transported to a virtual world that makes our body feel like it is in the game. This means that rather seeing an image on the screen you are placed into the game itself, as you move the character moves. Why is this being used as a therapy? Lots of studies had been using virtual reality to improve mood and adherence to exercise routines through fun games. Now as technology develops we are able to track movement more effeciently and this gives us the chance to re teach a brain that has forgotten certain movements and skills. While in the virtual world you are able to re connect to a arm or legs that may have been paralysed or have weak sensation as you can see that affected part in the game giving your brain an image of this allows to adapt, connect and stimulate neuroplasticity. Using virtual reality at NextStep we are able to pair specific games with specific movements and enhance our chances of recovery. An exciting area of work for us is pairing the use of the headset with our locomotor training programs. While the participant is suspended over the treadmill and the trainers are supporting their walking pattern we are able to send them to a world where they are walking along a beach as normal as if there was body was fully functioning. We had a great example of how much this can affect someone when while doing the treadmill training we switched the virtual world to a tightrope between two mountains and the participants leg immediately started walking close together as if on a tight rope completely subconsciously! There are so many possibilities for this technology and for a wide range of people, NextStep has paired up with the brand Mieron out of the United States that is leading the way currently. If anyone wants to have a go or has an idea they want to try out please get in touch! A new world is just at your NextStep!
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