Virtual Reality for Rehabilitation: Tech Overview
ScienceSoft has a 15-year practice in healthcare software development.
The Market of VR for Rehabilitation
In 2020, the VR market in healthcare is valued at $336.9 million. It’s expected to reach $2.2 billion by 2027 growing at a CAGR of 30.7%. Rehabilitation is among the key directions of healthcare VR, driven by the opportunity of advanced progress monitoring, controlled remote rehabilitation, and increased patients’ motivation.
How Virtual Reality for Rehabilitation Works
VR system architecture
VR for neurological rehabilitation
helps patients restore postural balance and motor skills. Commonly used for stroke rehabilitation, recovery from brain and spinal cord damages.
VR for physical therapy
helps patients with limb injuries train mobility functions and overcome muscle weakness.
VR for cognitive rehabilitation
helps patients with cognitive impairment (from attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder to early dementia) improve memory, attention and problem-solving skills.
Patient profile storage
Each patient has a personal profile with medical records, therapy program and goals, session history and progress scores.
Training program editing
The duration and difficulty of rehabilitation exercises can be adjusted – either manually by a therapist or automatically with the AI technology based on real-time feedback on user progress.
The system records a patient’s actions from motion sensors, compares data with pre-set performance metrics, analyses the patient’s progress and builds its overview over time.
Real-time guidance and positive reinforcement
Virtual reality sessions include visual and/or audio hints and rewards (e.g., changing a virtual object’s color to guide movements, unlocking level badges, voicing encouragements).
A therapist can join a VR session as the second avatar to show movements for a patient. Alternatively, this mode can be used for patients to train independently at the same time (optimizing a therapist’s workload) or to compete against each other (raising their interest in exercising).
With portable VR equipment, patients can exercise at home while being monitored remotely by a therapist via the web. Such therapy is more cost-effective than in-person therapy and eases access to rehabilitation services for patients in rural/distant areas.
Success Stories of Virtual Reality for Rehabilitation
According to the research, VR-based software VirtualRehab helped patients improve dynamic balance by 20% (on Tinetti Scale) and static balance by 40% (on Berg Scale) and decrease fatigue scores by 47% (on the Fatigue Impact Scale) and levels of anxiety by 13% (on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale).
A startup that developed XRHealth, a gamified VR rehabilitation system registered by the FDA, earned $750,000 in the first year of its foundation (2016) and raised $3.3m in the seed round next year. XRHealth raised $15 million in total up to 2020.
General Technology Stack
Note: The cloud-based infrastructure is a suggested choice as it provides scalability and enhanced performance capacity for data-intensive VR.
HMD (for fully immersive VR)
Challenges and Solutions of VR for Rehab
As VR programs for rehabilitation are often intended for use by the elderly, there may be issues related to usability and adoption among these user groups.
Investing resources in usability testing with such methods as, for example, cognitive walkthrough and heuristic evaluation.
Virtual reality technology with the telerehabilitation function may expose patients to certain safety risks, e.g., excessive exercising, which can be hard for a therapist to anticipate remotely.
Enhancing a VR hardware kit with medical sensors (pulse or ECG sensors) that constantly provide data on a patient’s condition and warns a therapist through the VR system in case of abnormal activity.
Cost Factors of VR for Rehabilitation
General cost factors
- Content (number of 3D models) and software to render it.
- Number of user roles.
- Number and complexity of training programs.
Additional cost factors
- VR hardware.
- Development and integration with machine learning algorithms (for user performance assessment).
- VR testing (clinical validation and usability testing) and optimization.
- Cloud services (based on the volume of cloud resources demanded).
VR for Rehabilitation: Consulting and Development by ScienceSoft
ScienceSoft relies on 15-year experience in healthcare software development to build high-performing VR solutions aimed at enhancing therapy of different health conditions.
VR for rehabilitation: consulting
Our consultants help:
- Decide on the system’s functionality.
- Choose the right tech stack.
- Design a scalable architecture.
- Define product development and management roadmap.
- Estimate TCO of the VR system.
- Estimate ROI.
VR for rehabilitation: development
The service covers all the stages of VR system creation:
- Business analysis and research.
- Architecture design.
- 3D modeling.
- UX and UI design.
- Software development.
- VR testing.
- Continuous support and evolution.
ScienceSoft is an international IT consultancy and software development company established in 1989, with 700 employees on board. Explore our VR app development offer in detail or get in touch with our team directly to discuss your product idea.