The Promise of VR for Patient Rehabilitation

The university’s Virtual Reality (VR) Mobility Training project aims to explore ways in which VR can help patients with mobility constraints relive meaningful daily experiences

A forward-thinking project by Assoc Prof Benjamin Soon, Health and Social Sciences, SIT, aims to combine VR technology and an omni-directional platform to improve rehabilitation efforts for patients with mobility constraints, by allowing them to relive meaningful daily experiences, such as grocery shopping in a supermarket, in a safe and pleasant virtual space.


The omni-directional VR treadmill, also known has the Kat Walk system, provides a platform for the user to walk on while waist-strapped for safety. In addition, users can rely on handlebars for support instead of roaming freely around in a room.


Different from traditional rehabilitation methods where patients are expected to walk or run on a convention treadmill, the Virtual Reality Mobility Training (VRMT)’s treadmill platform allows the user to decide whether to walk, run, sit or even squat.


The VR element allows users to immerse themselves in a virtual environment familiar to them. The system comes with 360˚ pre-recorded videos of real-life surroundings that simulate a realistic environment. Using the VR goggles, users will be able to see scenes of a recorded environment that move, according to their walking pace.


“The system will help train the muscles used in walking and standing balance. The VR element may even get users to go out and motivate them to use the system rather than lie in bed,” said Assoc Prof Soon.


The Virtual Reality Mobility Training (VRMT) is a collaboration between faculty and students from SIT’s Physiotherapy and Mechanical Engineering programmes; the Infocomm Technology cluster; the university’s Professional Officers; and physiotherapists from Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH).


To date, the VRMT prototype has been tested on a total of 35 individuals, of whom eight are professional physiotherapists.


To read the full story, please go to SIT’s Digital Newsroom: https://www.singaporetech.edu.sg/digitalnewsroom/the-promise-of-vr-for-patient-rehabilitation/