Credits By: Fitness Gaming
Chinese researchers have made a significant breakthrough in stroke rehabilitation by harnessing virtual reality (VR) techniques, as outlined in a recent research article published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics.
The crucial three-month period following a stroke is essential for motor function recovery and remodeling, emphasized Li Xiaoguang, a professor at Beihang University and author of the research article. However, traditional passive rehabilitation methods are often unsatisfactory, as many early stroke patients have limited motor capacity and therapeutic training options.
The research highlights the potential of VR techniques to revolutionize motor imagery training by creating a powerful illusion of action for central sensory stimulation. The team at Beihang University utilized surface electromyography (sEMG) of contralateral wrist movement to trigger virtual ankle movement using an improved data-driven approach with continuous sEMG signals for fast and accurate intention recognition.
The VR interactive system can provide feedback training for stroke patients, even in the early stages when there may be no active ankle movement. Compared to a 2D condition, the VR significantly enhanced the patients’ kinesthetic illusion and body ownership, leading to improved motor imagery performance and memory.
Moreover, using contralateral wrist sEMG signals as triggers for virtual ankle movement enhanced patients’ sustained attention and motivation during repetitive tasks, according to the article.
The clinical trial involved 64 early stroke patients, with the VR interactive system enabling more than 95 percent of the participants to achieve vivid motor imagery performance.
This groundbreaking research offers a promising and effective option for active rehabilitation training, particularly for severe hemiplegia patients in the early stages. The application of virtual reality in stroke rehabilitation opens new doors for enhancing motor function recovery and providing patients with improved therapeutic opportunities.