Virtual natural environments for restoration and rehabilitation in healthcare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

External organisations

  • Human Interface Technologies Team

Abstract

For over two decades, research and clinical projects have exploited Virtual Reality technologies in the treatment of numerous human conditions, from desensitisation régimes combating phobias to the use of distraction and exposure therapies for burns victims and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders. In contrast to previous “high-tech” interface and combat-oriented approaches to using VR in the psychological rehabilitation process, the present chapter advocates the use of virtual restorative environments (VREs)—the recreation of locations and scenes that, by virtue of their natural beauty and peacefulness, can significantly help to reduce the body’s reactivity to stress and restore cognitive or attentional capacities. The chapter also argues that VREs, suitably enhanced with more interactive and dynamic features, could offer significant benefits to patients in physical rehabilitation programmes. This is especially the case for amputees, for example, who, whilst awaiting the fitting of prosthetic limbs, could undertake competitive and motivational “virtual exercises”, thereby avoiding muscle atrophy and related reductions in residual limb capabilities. The report concludes that the exploitation of simulation technologies in psychological therapies is worthy of continued investigation, especially in the pursuit of enhancing patients’ recovery profiles following surgical procedures, from intensive care to the hospital recovery ward. VREs possess a range of important qualities, not least significant of which is real-time interaction and ease-of-editing, supporting the cost-effective generation of engaging and distributable scenarios that can be tailored relatively easily to meet the needs of individual patients.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-521
Number of pages25
JournalIntelligent Systems Reference Library
Volume68
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014