VR Confidence Boost Helps Stroke Victims Use Weakened Limbs

By Gary Cutlack on at

The virtual reality industry may end up doing more than serving porn and video games to you losers for 20 hours a day, with researchers suggesting that it can be used positively to trick the brain into regaining full use of damaged limbs.

According to data published by the Spanish Laboratory of Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems, VR worlds can trick stroke victims into thinking damaged limbs work better than they do in real life. This is critical, they say, because those who've suffered a loss of mobility need to work their ineffective limbs hard to get them back to full potential.

Psychologically, people who've lost some movement in an arm due to a stroke tend to compensate by using their other one a bit more -- making it less likely the affected limb can recover. The VR "trick" can encourage stroke victims to practise with their wonkier limbs by creating a virtual world where everything's working as normal, potentially leading to a better recovery.

Report author Belen Rubio said: "Surprisingly, only 10 minutes of enhancement was enough to induce significant changes in the amount of spontaneous use of the affected limb. This therapy could create a virtuous circle of recovery, in which positive feedback, spontaneous arm use and motor performance can reinforce each other. Engaging patients in this ongoing cycle of spontaneous arm use, training and learning could produce a remarkable impact on their recovery process." [Motherboard]