Reaching in several realities

Most of the virtual reality (VR) interventions in rehabilitation use standard computer 2D screens to show the virtual representation of 3D movements. However, the use of head-mounted displays (HMDs) can provide a more immersive and direct movement visualization that might result in higher performance, while demanding less cognitive effort from patients. This could open the possibility of using virtual reality rehabilitation also with patients with severe cognitive impairment.

The goal of this project is to compare the motor performance and cognitive load while performing a task in three different realities: 1) immersive VR (IVR) HMD; 2) augmented reality (AR) HMD; and 3) 2D screen. The motor performances are measured during a motor task and the cognitive load is measured with a simultaneous cognitive task.

Preliminary results on 20 healthy participants showed significantly better motor performance in IVR than 2D screen, especially for reaching locations that require movements in more than one dimension. Only a trend places AR between IVR and 2D screen on motor performance. No differences on cognitive load were found yet.

Evaluation on stroke population in combination with rehabilitation device are the next steps for this ongoing translational project.