Virtual reality for sensorimotor rehabilitation post stroke: Design principles and evidence

Sergi Bermúdez i Badia, Gerard G. Fluet, Roberto Llorens, Judith E. Deutsch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Scopus citations


In the recent years, the use of virtual reality (VR) to enhance motor skills of persons with activity and participation restriction due to disease or injury has been become an important area of research. In this chapter, we describe the design of such VR systems and their underlying principles, such as experience-dependent neuroplasticity and motor learning. Further, psychological constructs related to motivation including salience, goal setting, and rewards are commonly utilized in VR to optimize motivation during rehabilitation activities. Hence, virtually simulated activities are considered to be ideal for (1) the delivery of specific feedback, (2) the ability to perform large volumes of training, and (3) the presentation of precisely calibrated difficulty levels, which maintain a high level of challenge throughout long training sessions. These underlying principles are contrasted with a growing body of research comparing the efficacy of VR with traditionally presented rehabilitation activities in persons with stroke that demonstrate comparable or better outcomes for VR. In addition, a small body of literature has utilized direct assays of neuroplasticity to evaluate the effects of virtual rehabilitation interventions in persons with stroke. Promising developments and findings also arise from the use of off-the- shelf video game systems for virtual rehabilitation purposes and the integration of VR with robots and brain-computer interfaces. Several challenges limiting the translation of virtual rehabilitation into routine rehabilitation practice need to be addressed but the field continues to hold promise to answer key issues faced by modern healthcare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNeurorehabilitation Technology, Second Edition
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9783319286037
ISBN (Print)9783319286013
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Engineering(all)


  • Brain-computer interfaces
  • Haptics
  • Motivation
  • Motor learning
  • Motor rehabilitation
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Serious games
  • Stroke
  • Virtual reality


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