Neurorealilty, an Amsterdam-based startup, made a strong showing in VR, gamification, and health tech at CES 2021 with its inaugural product: Koji’s Quest. Designed specifically for rehabilitation after stroke and other brain injuries, Koji’s Quest offers a personalized, immersive experience that helps patients regain cognitive function by enhancing brain plasticity.

Traditional stroke rehabilitation also focuses on brain plasticity, or the brain’s ability to change and adapt to stimuli. Stimulating experiences cause neurons to grow and form new connections. They can also redirect specific cognitive functions into healthy brain tissue when the original brain area is damaged. Standard rehab uses board games, drawing exercises, and other activities that involve operations like alphabetizing, spatial perception, visual processing, and memory to stimulate affected areas of the brain.

By integrating VR and gamification techniques, Koji’s Quest ramps up neuronal stimulation in the cortical and subcortical areas of the brain. An adventure game with personalization capabilities, Koji’s Quest takes users through a series of worlds, accompanied by a canine companion called Koji. Each world focuses on specific cognitive skills.

Beyond neuroplasticity, Koji’s Quest activates two other neuronal factors involved in cognitive repair: mirror neurons and the brain’s reward system. Mirror neurons allow the brain to learn from watching the actions of others. During the game, Koji the dog also performs cognitive tasks, eliciting a mirror response from the user. And the game keeps users motivated to practice and improve with rewards for meeting goals and completing tasks.

Neuroreality’s intended use for Koji’s Quest involves clinical and home cognitive rehab training for groups and individuals. The system has alternative input methods for users with limited physical capabilities. It can easily incorporate into a remote rehab program and offers performance monitoring, trend tracking, and insights for users and providers.

Koji’s Quest, still in beta testing, won’t replace hands-on or face-to-face rehab any time soon. But the leading-edge virtual reality environment and customization features could significantly level up stroke rehabilitation results and make recovery more fun and experiential for patients.