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 Virtual stroll through mall for immobile patients

This story is from the category Theraputic Worlds
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Date posted: 12/07/2006

Stroke victims and people suffering from weakness of their upper extremities may now be able to go shopping in shopping centres, thanks to a virtual mall developed by a University of Haifa Occupational Therapy doctoral student.

Debbie Rand, who developed the system and investigated its effectiveness, said the virtual reality program aids both the physical and cognitive rehabilitation of the stroke victims, allowing them to "wander" through the mall, choose which store to enter, make purchases and check their basket of goods. She presented her virtual shopping mall at a recent conference on Virtual Reality in Rehabilitation at the university.

Based on a C1 style system, where the user stands/sits before a large frontal screen, the environment uses a camera, which displays the person's image within the virtual environment.

"The patient operates the environment by movements of his or her body, and this encourages him to use his body and hands," Rand explains. "The patient sees himself and receives feedback about his movements without the need to put on any accessories. These advantages," she believes, "strengthen and improve the movement and functioning of people who have experienced neurological or orthopedic injuries."

Until now, seven stroke patients have been "treated" with the virtual mall. Their proficiency with the virtual mall, she continued, improved significantly after treatment.

See the full Story via external site: www.jpost.com



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