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Volume 42 Number 5, September/October 2005
Pages 595 — 609

Abstract - Video-capture virtual reality system for patients with paraplegic spinal cord injury

Rachel Kizony, MSc;1-3* Liat Raz, MSc;2 Noomi Katz, PhD;1 Harold Weingarden, MD;2 Patrice L. Tamar Weiss, PhD3

1School of Occupational Therapy, Hebrew University and Hadassah, Jerusalem, Israel; 2Department of Neurological Rehabilitation, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel; 3Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel
Abstract — This article presents results from a feasibility study of a video-capture virtual reality (VR) system used with patients who have paraplegic spinal cord injury (SCI) and who need balance training. The advantages of the VR system include providing the user with natural control of movements, the ability to use as many parts of the body as are deemed suitable within the context of therapeutic goals, and flexibility in the way the system can be adapted to suit specific therapeutic objectives. Thirteen participants with SCI experienced three virtual environments (VEs). Their responses to a Short Feedback Questionnaire showed high levels of presence. We compared performance in the environments with a group of 12 nondisabled participants. Response times for the patient group were significantly higher and percentage of success was significantly lower than that for the nondisabled group. In addition, significant moderate correlations were found between performance within a VE and static balance ability as measured by the Functional Reach Test. This study is a first step toward future studies aimed at determining the potential of using this VR system during the rehabilitation of patients with SCI.
Key words: balance, Functional Reach Test, paraplegia, rehabilitation, spinal cord injury, therapy, training, traumatic injury, video-capture virtual reality, wheelchair.

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