A comparison of upper limb movement profiles when reaching to virtual and real targets using the Oculus Rift: Implications for virtual-reality enhanced stroke rehabilitation
Recent innovations in the field of virtual reality, such as the Oculus Rift head mounted display, provide an unparalleled level of immersion in the virtual world at a cost which is rapidly approaching mainstream availability. Utilising virtual reality has been shown to improve many facets of the rehabilitation process, including patient motivation and participation. These systems however, do not enable the user to receive feedback when interacting with virtual objects, which may influence the movement profile of a patient. Therefore, to investigate how a virtual environment influences movements during stance, participants were required to reach to a real and a virtual target. Their movements were quantified using a motion capture suit, and a virtual target was generated using the Oculus Rift. The motions to both targets (real and virtual) were compared using a number of measures calculated to characterize the velocity profiles. Performance based indicators such as time and variance in movement were diminished when reaching to a virtual target, and movements executed in VR recruited more muscular segments than their real counterparts.