Recovery and training of motor skills depends on neuroplasticity that is driven by repetition, intensity, motivation, and task-oriented training.
Recent experimental evidence suggests that virtual reality technologies have great potential in the neurological rehabilitation of patients suffering from movement and balance disorders.
By combining physical therapy exercise with specialized computer games we are trying to interest the patient in proper execution of movements and keep a positive emotional background during the training. And after all, what child does not like to play computer games?
For more than twelve years, specially developed rehabilitation games with gaming devices have been used at the International Clinic of Rehabilitation in order to stimulate motor training in patients with Cerebral Palsy.
Now gaming rehabilitation has become one of the components of the multimodal rehabilitation system and is used on a regular, daily basis. We used a wide range of specialized rehabilitation computer games.
Recently, special rehabilitation games aimed at training balance and improvement of stepping movements have been developed and are used in the daily practice in our clinic.
These games are controlled by the Dance Mat, a low cost electronic game controller that can be freely bought in online computer games stores.
Stepping games are designed specifically for patients with movement disorders and help improve the stepping movements, balance, motor response speed and cognitive abilities.
Stepping rehabilitation games are designed for training at home under remote supervision of the therapist. Home rehabilitation training is provided over the virtual Rehabilitation Gaming Center, published at www.rehagame.com
Balance training is performed using the developed Internet-based rehabilitation gaming system. Nintendo Wii Fit balance board, that has four pressure sensors in the corners, is used for training.
The patient is standing or sitting on the board, and while doing balancing exercises (leaning forward - backward or side bending) simultaneously controls the behavior of specialized computer game character.
This system of virtual rehabilitation is freely available on the Internet at game.reha.lviv.ua and can be used by patients to continue rehabilitation at home under remote supervision of the therapist.