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How virtual reality is changing physiotherapy for the better


VR, disabilities
Several hospitals in the UAE have shown interest in adopting these technology-based therapies that can have significant impact on people with disabilities.

Virtual reality and 3D-based video games are fast becoming popular alternatives to physiotherapy.

Physiotherapists and clinicians are now working closely with computer experts to design computer games that would promote specific body movements – notably shoulder, elbow, knee and hip movements – needed in therapy. With proper instructions from therapists, the game developers also set instructions and create personalised exercise plans for patients, keeping in mind the movements and difficulty faced by specific patient.

Dr. Imad Afyouni, Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of Sharjah, introduced the interesting facts about the cutting-edge technology to the audience as he delivered a lecture on game-based physiotherapy solutions at the Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences as part of the UAE Innovation Month in Sharjah.

“It is catching fast because it is non-invasive, home-based, highly accurate, and laced with intelligent alerting and automatic correction system. Several hospitals in the UAE have shown interest in adopting these technology-based therapies that can have significant impact on people with disabilities, people injured badly due to accidents as well as people with special needs in our society,” he said.

Usually patients go to rehabilitation centres or physiotherapy centres for conventional treatments like occupational therapies to make muscles and bones getting right positions. Now there are much more effective treatments available, which have been developed jointly by experts in computer science and physiotherapy.

“In many cases, patients are suggested to exercise at home after a few sessions at the therapy centre. But, people get bored by the repetitive exercises. Sometimes, it fails to show the desired results because it is not practiced under the supervision of a qualified therapist. Now we are making these therapies work effectively without invasive censors on the body,” he said.

“We develop games to engage them in virtual environment, so that they do the required exercise while playing games. It’s fun way to achieve a task that can be painful and boring if practiced in conventional manner,” he added.

The Sharjah Innovation Week is being celebrated from February 15th-21st as part of the UAE Innovation Month at Al Majaz Waterfront and the Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences.



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