Occupational Therapy

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Virtual reality techniques in Occupational therapy

As science and technology change, so do our occupational therapy practice methods . This is shown not only within our field, but also within health care. Certainly, technological advancements continually influence our current practice and occasionally they create new tools for intervention. Virtual rehabilitation is one of these areas of advancements, where changes have driven new and unique treatment methods. Virtual rehabilitation is the use of virtual reality (VR) and virtual environments (VE) within rehabilitation. VR and VE can be described as a simulation of real world environments through a computer and experienced through a human-machine interface. Virtual rehabilitation has received increasing attention from researchers and clinicians who recognize potential therapeutic benefits due to the immersive nature of the medium. Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. On a computer, virtual reality is primarily experienced through two of the five senses: sight and sound. Virtual rehabilitation is able to provide a natural or real-life environment; individuals have the opportunity to forget about their surroundings and situation and focus directly on a task in the simulated environment . Clinical work often takes place outside individuals’ normal environments in hospitals, care centers or clinics. By facilitating therapy in a controlled virtual environment, we are able to offer functionally relevant and ecologically valid therapy and assessment . Ecological validity refers to how performance in an experimental context i.e. VR relates to and is predictive of behavior in the real world . In addition to immersion, there has been increased interest in VR due to its motivational nature; individuals using VR tend to have fun and are thus more motivated to continue therapy...
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