Neuro-rehabilitation with Virtual Reality
It has been known for over a century that physical unilateral training with one limb can result in substantial performance gains also in the untrained (contralateral) limb – a phenomenon known as Cross-Education (CE)
In this project, we demonstrate that cross-education training with manipulated visual and proprioceptive feedback in a virtual-reality environment can boost motor rehabilitation in patients with unilateral UL dysfunction. Using fMRI, we also show that such training enhances cross-regional functional coupling.
One of the conceptual novelties of this project resides in the fact that it brings together knowledge from different fields of research – motor cognition (learning by observation, cross-education, passive movements), basic neuroscience (neuroimaging), computer science (virtual reality), and the clinic (rehabilitation of hemiplegic patients).
In the next steps, we plan to continue this integration and develop new utilities of the presented training system in the context of hemiplegic patients. For example, as opposed to a finger sequence task we use, virtual simulation of external objects such as balls, pegs, boards etc. can be embedded into the real environment providing a rich and engaging training experience in the goal of developing a novel training regime for the rehabilitation of patients with unilateral upper limb dysfunction.