Patient adherence to treatment plans has a significant impact on healthcare outcomes. According to a study by researchers at the Departments of Psychology at La Sierra University and the University of California, Riverside, more than 40% of patients misunderstand, forget, or ignore healthcare advice to their detriment. Patient noncompliance with home exercises in physiotherapy is an issue for physical therapists worldwide. The problem is worse with patients who are not used to exercising and when the treatment exercises are painful.
Tel Aviv, Israel-based VRPhysio‘s eponymous virtual reality platform is registered with the FDA as a measurement device. VRPhysio founder Eran Orr had personal experience with physical therapy exercises when he was recovering from an injury. Orr found physical therapy exercises confusing, sometimes painful, and frequently boring. VRPhysio relies on an HTC Vive, Microsoft VR Headset, Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR, or Oculus headset and the company’s software. Therapists help patients choose VRPhysio games designed to promote recovery. The games are based on strict physical therapy protocols. The movements patients make playing the game take the place of conventional PT exercises. The software also guides and encourages patients. Exercise information is sent to VRPhysio cloud storage. The software uses algorithms to track the patients’ movements to be sure the exercises are done correctly.
Gamification is becoming a popular approach for physical therapy. Patients and therapists are able to access detailed progress reports stored in the cloud so both are better informed. Studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of VRPhysio in improving with physical therapy “homework” compliance will be an important next step. One challenge is greater availability of VR headsets and computers powerful enough to run the VR software.