Virtual Reality for Physical Therapy: Use Cases, Software Architecture, and Costs
Having 32 years of experience in immersive software development, ScienceSoft guarantees professional VR app development.
The VR market in healthcare was estimated $336.9 million in 2020 and is projected to grow to $2.2 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 30.7%. The Goldman Sachs Group lists physical therapy as the 2nd major use case for VR in healthcare due to its effectiveness in providing advanced patient care at reduced costs.
VR therapy for alleviating pain and improving agility of post-surgery patients or those with broken bones and sprained ligaments.
Virtual exercises to recover from or prevent ACL tears, hip flexor strains, tennis elbows, and other sports-related injuries. Allows athletes to restore muscle strength and enhance reaction time even when they are on tour.
Physical therapy for patients with neurological conditions (multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, fibromyalgia) that improves balance and coordination. Effectively reduces motor defects while minimizing physical damage risks.
Physical therapy for regular pediatric or geriatric care. Prevents child body growth issues (e.g., scoliosis) and assists elderly people in avoiding joint stiffness.
Adaptation to assistive devices or prosthetics
Virtual training of using canes and walkers or practice of controlling artificial limbs.
Remote instructor presence
A physical therapist can virtually join a VR therapy session to provide firsthand guidance.
Individual therapy programs
Collections of exercises composed by a physical therapist. Can be edited manually (by a therapist) or automatically (on certain reached goals that were recorded by the system).
Virtual achievements for reaching specific therapy goals, aimed at improving patients’ motivation.
Automatic real-time analysis of the way each exercise is performed. In case of inconsistencies with the built-in standards, the system’s AI voices or displays a note with adjustment recommendations.
The common architecture of VR physical therapy software includes the following elements:
- A web administration panel used for editing therapy scenarios, adding new patient profiles to the database, and uploading new 3D visual assets.
- Data storage with therapy exercise scenarios, 3D graphic elements, and patient profiles.
- A VR application.
The VR app comprises multiple modules, responsible for:
- Processing of input data, received from a microphone, motion/touch controllers and haptic gloves.
- Visual, audial, and sensory output generation.
- Load of 3D visual assets, audio/video data, and any supplementary material (such as guiding notes in the text form).
- Simulation of physics laws in the virtual environment.
- Playback of physical therapy exercise scenarios.
- Recording, analysis, and evaluation of patients’ performance.
Client VR application
Unreal Engine (C++)
CRYENGINE (C++ and C#)
Myo Gesture Control Armband
For a web admin panel
A French startup KineQuantum, founded by a physical therapist, created a solution with 60 ready-made exercises for patients with rheumatologic, orthopedic, traumatological, and related health problems. After using the company’s VR solution, patients report from 50% to 80% pain and discomfort reduction.
What’s more, the patients report that exhausting therapy sessions are perceived differently in VR and say that 20 minutes of VR-based exercising felt like only 10 minutes.
Both physical therapists and patients may lack tech skills, which can make the VR solution quite challenging to use.
Check out the solution
Interfaces of VR client apps are designed only after meticulous user experience research of all target user groups (therapists and patients) and extensive UX testing. Only when the UX tests show that both user groups adjust to the interface during their first use and have no issues when navigating through the software menu, the design is handed to development.
When providing cost estimates of VR physical therapy software development, ScienceSoft considers:
General cost drivers
- Number and complexity of physical therapy exercises.
- Number of user roles (individual or group physical therapy).
- VR hardware (Tethered HMD: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index; Smartphone-compatible viewers: Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream View; Standalone HMD: Lenovo Mirage Solo.)
- Development of AI algorithms for smart performance assessment.
- Cloud services (price depends on the provider’s pricing policy).
VR for Physical Therapy: Consulting and Development by ScienceSoft
With over 32 years of experience in developing low-latency immersive software, ScienceSoft offers professional consulting and development services for VR for physical therapy.
Consulting on VR for physical therapy
- VR software requirements list.
- Long-term release roadmap.
- Scalable VR architecture design.
- Technology stack definition.
- Hardware/software integration planning.
- Risk management planning.
Development of VR for physical therapy
- Physical therapy VR solution planning.
- VR architecture planning.
- UX and UI design.
- 3D model design.
- VR development and testing.
- Hardware/software integration.
- Continuous support and evolution.
ScienceSoft is a software development and IT consulting company founded in 1989 and based in McKinney, TX. We cater to the healthcare industry by developing various medical software, including VR for physical therapy. Being ISO 13485-certified, we guarantee our VR software's compliace with the requirements of the FDA and the Council of the European Union.