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Virtual reality system makes attending therapy easier for stroke survivors

Researchers from the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have created a virtual reality clinic to make it easier for stroke survivors to attend their physical and occupational therapy sessions.
Results from a proof-of-concept study suggest that the technology are effective at encouraging therapy participation, according to a university article.
 
“Physical and occupational therapy are important parts of stroke recovery, in terms of helping survivors regain dexterity and functional motor ability,” Derek Kamper, co-author of a paper on the work, said in the article. The paper appeared in Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation.

According to Kamper, stroke survivors often face significant challenges in attending their therapy sessions. For example, many survivors don't live near facilities that offer relevant therapy services.
 
The goal of the project was to create an online, virtual reality platform that allows patients and therapists to interact in what is essentially real time, Kamper said in the article
 
The resulting system, called Virtual Environment for Rehabilitative Gaming Exercises (VERGE), is a software package that makes use of Kinect motion-sensor hardware to track the movement of patients and therapists. The system was developed by Kamper with collaborators at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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