Virtual Reality in pediatric neurorehabilitation

Children and adolescents with cognitive and motor impairments benefit from regular therapy at Swiss Children’s Rehab. The Virtual Reality App, developed in collaboration with Swiss Children’s Rehabilitation, enables children to immerse themselves in a fantastic world and helps them to overcome their own physical limitations and allows the targeted use of individual forms of therapy.

The project

Swiss Children’s Rehab

Swiss Children’s Rehab treats and cares for children who suffer from the consequences of congenital or incurred diseases or injuries. The aim of the therapies is to help the affected children and adolescents to achieve the greatest possible independence and thereby improve the quality of life of the whole family. The current life situation is considered and, if necessary, the objectives are adjusted.

Perfect technology

Virtual Reality offers a wonderful platform to provide children and young people exciting diversion from the classic forms of therapy and at the same time to respond to the individual abilities of the children with coordinated forms of therapy. The patient group is extremely heterogeneous in terms of cognitive and motor skills, which is why it was important to include suitable exercises in a playful form in the Oculus Quest application we developed. Thanks to this VR app, the barriers of the real world can be easily broken and takes the users into a completely different, mystical world. It has been shown that children look forward to the therapies and have fun exploring the virtual world despite its limitations and discovering new things.

The app

The virtual reality application is specially adapted to the different, individual abilities of the children. The main aspect, however, is the practice of moving activities in everyday life. Therefore, the virtual world supports a freely accessible area of 44m^2, where there is a lot to discover and master and where the patients are animated to move to different places. For example, they have to cross a small river with dry feet to find the hidden chocolate. The physical limitations of the children automatically become less important as soon as the real world no longer exists for a certain moment.

In addition to the distributed interactions in order to entice the child to take as many steps as possible, there are also tricky tasks to solve, such as operating a door handle or picking various sweets, which they can immediately feed to a hungry badger. Interactions with objects such as touching mushrooms are rewarded with a visual as well as auditory effect to make the world lively and exciting. Thanks to the simple and highly intuitive interactions, there is no need for an introduction, users can start their exploration directly. And thanks to the reliable hand tracking of the Oculus Quest, no controllers need to be held in the hands.

Strongly based on the knowledge of the therapists and the feedback of the patients, the app will be further developed in the foreseeable future and will enable an even more intensive therapeutic use at Swiss Children’s Rehab.

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