Potential Application of Virtual Reality for Interface Customisation (and Pre-training) of Amputee Patients as Preparation for Prosthetic Use
Virtual Reality has been used to great effect in the field of retraining and strengthening neural pathways in victims of serious brain injury and stroke.
Meanwhile, VR visualisation of missing limbs in amputees has been used to great effect not only in the treatment of “phantom limb syndrome” but in helping amputees restore muscle tone in remaining limb sections and torso prior to fitting these areas for prosthetics.
The natural next step, combining elements of both approaches, is the potential application of virtual reality to actively train the patient for using these prostheses prior to them being fitted, and furthermore adjusting and customising the prosthetic itself to the emergent needs of the patient whilst using the VR training.
This raises fascinating new applications not only for virtual reality itself, but for the numerous peripheral technologies which have risen around VR. These technologies include force feedback, “haptic” sensory simulation and monitoring of muscle strength, position and movement ranges.
This chapter aims to assess the capabilities of these technologies, both now and in the future.
By reviewing the work of two key studies in this area this chapter aims to bring together the necessary skills and establish the collaborative crossovers (and existing precedents) which would be required to develop this application of VR in the future.
KeywordsProstheses Amputee rehabilitation Haptic feedback Force feedback Muscle conditioning Neural retraining DBI (Direct Brain Interfacing)
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