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Health and FitnessMedical

Virtual Reality Technology Opens Up New Treatment Possibilities for Spinal Cord Injury Patients

A spinal cord injury is devastating. Any damage to the cord or surrounding tissues and bones can even lead to loss of mobility.

  • Also termed SCI for Spinal cord injury, it has become the second-leading cause of paralysis in the United States.
  • The average age of injury stands at 42, with 17000 new cases registered annually.
  • Moreover, the statistics show that not even one percent of patients gain complete neurological function at discharge.

Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation is crucial and should not be taken lightly. Specialized rehabilitation centers are working on various personalized treatment plans and care for Spinal Cord Injury Patients.

Complications with Spinal Cord Injury

An injury to the spine can happen anywhere along its length. However, the damage is more severe if the injury is higher in the cord. Functions associated with parts above the line of damage will not be affected.

With the injury to the cord, the nervous system also gets affected. The brain loses control, which further hampers many other essential body functions like blood pressure, digestive system, and bowel control.

Symptoms vary from person to person, but some major losses that occur below the line of damage include:

  • Paralysis
  • Loss of sensation,
  • Changes in the nervous system
  • Irregular breathing patterns

Importance of Spinal cord injury rehabilitation Centres

Specialized centers offer a range of care and treatment options based on the severity of damage suffered by spinal cord injury patients.

Activity Based therapy works to improve strength and enhance motor function. The therapy also targets emotional issues and instills confidence and fights off depression.

Some significant benefits that patients avail with specialized care include

  • Reduces hospital time
  • Specialized care by an expert team who specializes in this discipline
  • Access to modern treatments and facilities
  • Use of cutting-edge assistive technologies

Rehabilitation centers can be in hospitals or can be independent facilities as well. Patients should be cautious in selecting the best and most modern care.

In this article, we will throw some light on assistive technologies like Virtual Reality to assess how they can improve patient outcomes substantially.

VR in Healthcare

VR is a powerful immersive technology that is changing the face of modern healthcare systems. Healthcare providers and patients can interact with each other remotely in simulated environments that are as real as possible. It is especially effective in areas like pain management and rehabilitation.

Every day, healthcare facilities, professionals, and doctors are deploying it as modern assistive technology to better patient care and treatment.

  • The global healthcare VR market will touch $2.2 billion by 2024 and show a CAGR of 30.7% to reach here.
  • Moreover, Accenture has published a report which states that 62% of patients are comfortable with VR healthcare over traditional healthcare.

Use of VR for s

We earlier spoke of ABT (activity-based therapy) for spinal cord injury patients. That’s because patients lose nervous system functions, due to which the messages from the brain cannot reach the organ.

ABT with physical and emotional therapy is one of the best ways to combat neuroplasticity.

Physical exercises specially designed by experts are proven to be helpful. When a patient is physically present for a session with the therapist, the patient does all the activities. However, the session is for a limited time only. The patient must persist and continue the exercises to regain control and strength. Most patients seem to lack the motivation to practice alone. Moreover, it has been observed that their mental and emotional state also weakens, leading to further demotivation.

Virtual Reality offers a simulated risk-free environment for patients. Once patients enter the VR, they become a part of the experience rather than an observer. They are immersed in the digital world and interact with their instructor from the comfort of their home. The therapist is able to monitor the patient’s progress and suggest remedial measures in real-time.

Let’s take a look at some of the significant benefits that VR Therapy offers to spinal cord injury patients:

  • Therapist- Patient Coordination

Due to VR’s interactive environment, therapists and patients can maintain close contact. This helps the therapists monitor the patient closely and accordingly switch exercise levels as per the progress. For patients, it reassures them that they can interact with their therapist without any hassles.

  • Professional and Specialised Treatment

There might be a lack of qualified professionals to help the patient in many situations. Doing therapy with them might cause further damage. However, with VR modules, professionals follow the medical standards to ensure the best possible care. Since feedback is given in real-time patients rectify themselves immediately, minimizing any untoward damage.

  • Confidence Boosting

The VR world is digitally simulated, and one can live out various scenarios. For example, a shopping trip or a dinner at a restaurant. Learning to navigate and overcome obstacles in different situations enhances confidence, makes the treatment plan more varied, and makes it much more fun.

Also, therapists can provide real-time feedback so spinal cord injury patients are not overwhelmed with the activity goals.

  • Time and Cost Saving

It saves time for both patients and therapists as commuting time and visits to clinics are reduced. With the help of VR, patients and therapists can interact from the convenience of their homes or offices, leading to better productivity.


VR in healthcare is becoming more accessible. VR offers a safe option to complement and improve the efficacy of ongoing medical treatment. High immersion levels are a valuable aid as patients navigate complex situations in a virtual zone. However, the zone is created to offer practice to a patient and improve treatment outcomes. This helps spinal cord injury patients to develop physical and mental resilience and a sense of positive wellbeing. This is a critical aspect of rehabilitation after spinal cord injury.

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