Virtual reality: exercise therapy for Parkinson’s disease?


Author: Simge Eva DoganPublished: 2 September 2021

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A man wears a VR headset, monitored by a researcher.

US researchers are developing immersive virtual reality (VR) games as exercise therapy for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Designed by a team at Virginia Commonwealth University, the games aim to address motor symptoms and encourage movement. “The idea is to have something where you’re motivated and engaged, and you can put this headset on and work out anytime,” said research lead Professor James S Thomas.

The team invited people with Parkinson’s to test the technology at a showcasing event. Wearing a VR headset, participants used handheld controllers to play games that called for swatting and scooping motions at different speeds. One participant reported: “I can definitely see the value in these games.”

The researchers hope to create a lower-cost version of the VR system that can be used independently. “We’re trying to get you to move your body in a way that will help you maintain your quality of life,” said Thomas.

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