Limitations and solutions of low cost virtual reality mirror therapy for post-stroke patients

Mirror therapy is applied to reduce phantom pain and as a rehabilitation technique in post-stroke patients. Using Virtual Reality and head-mounted displays this therapy can be performed in virtual scenarios. However, for its efficient use in clinical settings, some hardware limitations need to be solved. A new system to perform mirror therapy in virtual scenarios for post-stroke patients is proposed. The system requires the patient a standalone virtual reality headset with hand-tracking features and for the rehabilitator an external computer or tablet device. The system provides functionalities for the rehabilitator to prepare and follow-up rehabilitation sessions and a virtual scenario for the patient to perform rehabilitation. The system has been tested on a real scenario with the support of three experienced rehabilitators and considering ten post-stroke patients in individual sessions focused on upper limb motor rehabilitation. The development team observed all the sessions and took note of detected errors regarding technological aspects. Solutions to solve detected problems will be proposed and evaluated in terms of feasibility, performance cost, additional system cost, number of solved issues, new limitations, or advantages for the patient. Three types of errors were detected and solved. The first error is related to the position of the hands relative to the head-mounted display. To solve it the exercise area can be limited to avoid objectives that require turning the head too far. The second error is related to the interaction between the hands and the virtual objects. It can be solved making the main hand non-interactive. The last type of error is due to patient limitations and can be mitigated by having a virtual hand play out an example motion to bring the patient's attention back to the exercise. Other solutions have been evaluated positively and can be used in addition or instead of the selected ones. For mirror therapy based on virtual reality to be efficient in post-stroke rehabilitation the current head-mounted display-based solutions need to be complemented with specific strategies that avoid or mitigate the limitations of the technology and the patient. Solutions that help with the most common issues have been proposed ​
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