Category Archives: Virtual Reality

TMS + VR for sensory, motor skill recovery after stroke

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EPFL’s Michela Bassolino has used transcranial magnetic stimulation to create hand sensations when combined with VR.

By stimulating the motor cortex,  subjects’ hand muscles  were activated, and involuntary short movements were induced.

In a recent study, when subjects observed a virtual hand moving at the same time and in a similar manner to their own during TMS, they felt that a virtual hand was a controllable body part.

25 of 32 participants experienced the effect within two minutes of stimulation. Bassolino believes that the effect may also be achieved through less immersive video.

The technology could  help patients recover sensory and motor skills after a stroke — and also be used as a gaming enhancement.


Join ApplySci at the 9th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Boston conference on September 25, 2018 at the MIT Media Lab

VR + neurofeedback for movement training after stroke

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Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Silicon Valley on February 26-27, 2018 at Stanford University, featuring:  Vinod KhoslaJustin SanchezBrian OtisBryan JohnsonZhenan BaoNathan IntratorCarla PughJamshid Ghajar – Mark Kendall – Robert Greenberg

VR studied for PTSD, phobia treatment

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Emory’s Jessica Maples-Keller has published a study demonstrating the effectiveness of VR in treating PTSD, phobias, and other mental illnesses.  She describes the treatment as allowing “providers to create computer-generated environments in a controlled setting, which can be used to create a sense of presence and immersion in the feared environment for individuals suffering from anxiety disorders.”

Small studies on the use of VR in  panic disorder, schizophrenia, acute and chronic pain, addiction, and eating disorders have been done, but with limited numbers and a lack of comparison groups. Keller noted that extensive training is needed before integrating VR approaches into clinical practice.


Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston on September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab. Featuring Joi Ito – Ed Boyden – Roz Picard – George Church – Nathan Intrator –  Tom Insel – John Rogers – Jamshid Ghajar – Phillip Alvelda

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VR therapy could reduce acute and chronic pain

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Cedars-Sinai’s Brennan Spiegel has published a study showing that VR therapy could reduce acute and chronic pain.

100 gastrointestinal, cardiac, neurological and post-surgical pain patients with an average pain score of 5.4 were included.  Fifty patients watched a 15-minute nature video. Fifty patients watched a 15-minute animated game with VR goggles.
The patients who watched the nature video had a 13% decrease in  pain scores.  The patients who watched the virtual reality game had a 24% decrease.

Th researchers are not sure how VR actually reduces pain, but thnk that it could be due to immersive distraction.  According to Spiegel:

“When the mind is deeply engaged in an immersive experience, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to perceive stimuli outside of the field of attention. By ‘hijacking’ the auditory, visual, and proprioception senses, VR is thought to create an immersive distraction that restricts the mind from processing pain.”

Potential side effects of VR include dizziness, vomiting, nausea or epileptic seizures, therefore patients must be carefully screened and monitored.


Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston – Featuring Ed Boyden, Roz Picard, Tom Insel, John Rogers, Jamshid Ghajar and  Nathan Intrator – September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab

VR training to reduce falls in Parkinson’s, dementia

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Tel Aviv University’s Jeff Hausdorff has created a virtual reality treadmill system in an attempt to prevent falls in Parkinson’s  and  dementia patients.

Current interventions focus on improving muscle strength, balance and gait.  By integrating motor planning, attention, executive control and judgement training, using VR, therapies can also address the cognitive issues associated with falls.

In a recent study of 282 participants,  146 did treadmill + VR training, and 136 did treadmill training alone. VR patient foot movements were filmed and shown on a screen, in order for them to “see” their feet walking  in real-time. The game-like simulation included avoiding and stepping over puddles or hurdles, and navigating pathways. It also provided motivational feedback.

Fall rates were similar in both groups before the training. Six months after, those who participated in the VR intervention fell 50% less. Those who did not train with VR had consistent fall rates. The biggest improvement was seen in Parkinson’s patients.

Patients can receive the combined therapy at the Hausdorff-led Center for the Study of Movement Cognition and Mobility at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital.

Click to view the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center video.


Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston – Featuring Roz Picard, Tom Insel, John Rogers and Nathan Intrator – September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab

Eye tracking + VR to improve brain injury diagnosis, track recovery

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Eye tracking technology, combined with VR, is proliferating, with myriad medical, gaming, and education applications.

SyncThink uses eye tracking, built into an Oculus Rift,  to detect if a person has the ability to keep

the eyes synced with moving objects, to determine brain injury and track recovery.

The company has been granted 10 patents, for  eye-tracking hardware, and analytical techniques for stimulating, measuring, and training brain attention networks. It has been used to detect concussions on the field and evaluate soldier readiness and brain impairment after injury. The company describes additional applications including characterizing and monitoring fatigue, performance, and developmental or neurodegenerative conditions.

Eyefluence, which was today acquired by Google, creates head-mounted display AR, VR, and mixed reality interfaces. According to the company,  its AR application allows critical care professionals to access patient data with their eyes while their hands treat the injured.  VR integrations humanize experiences, reduce nausea, optimize image resolution, and increase speed.

ApplySci believes that the next step in AR/VR enhancement is integrating mobile EEG into headsets, combining eye tracking, GSR, and  brainwave data into various applications.


ApplySci’s 6th   Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Silicon Valley  –  February 7-8 2017 @ Stanford   |   Featuring:   Vinod Khosla – Tom Insel – Zhenan Bao – Phillip Alvelda – Nathan Intrator – John Rogers – Mary Lou Jepsen – Vivek Wadhwa – Miguel Nicolelis – Roozbeh Ghaffari –Tarun Wadhwa – Eythor Bender – Unity Stoakes – Mounir Zok – Krishna Shenoy – Karl Deisseroth

VR for early neurodegenerative disease detection, personalized rehabilitation

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Tomsk Polytechnic and Siberian State University scientists David Khachaturyan  and  Ivan Tolmachov have developed a VR based neurodegenerative disorder diagnosis system.  The goal is the early detection and tretment of diseases, including MS and Parkinson’s.  The next step is the use of VR systems, like Glass and Kinect, for personalized rehabilitation.

50 subjects, both healthy and already diagnosed, used VR headsets,  a non-contact sensor controller and a mobile platform during a variety of activities.  Changes in posture and balance were detected, and compared to a human  skeleton model of 20 points on the body.  Deviations from the model indicated disease.  Differences in reactions of those with difference diseases was also noted —  Parkinson’s patients experienced hand tremors, and others experienced compromised coordination.

A clinical trial  will be completed in 2017.


ApplySci’s 6th   Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Silicon Valley  –  February 7-8 2017 @ Stanford   |   Featuring:   Vinod Khosla – Tom Insel – Zhenan Bao – Phillip Alvelda – Nathan Intrator – John Rogers – Mary Lou Jepsen – Vivek Wadhwa – Miguel Nicolelis – Roozbeh Ghaffari – Unity Stoakes

Anxiety reducing VR game

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Deep VR teaches breathing techniques meant to reduce the anxiety of users during a game. Its developers believe that the skills learned can also help manage stress during daily life.

It is the basis of a Radboud University study, in the lab of Isabela Granic, that aims to alleviate anxiety in children.  100 children have already been studied, the findings of which will guide the game’s future design and lead to the development of its sensor.

Exposure therapy will soon be added, to shift the experience from sedative to mildly frightening, in an attempt to systematically desensitize those with anxiety.

Click to view Deep VR video


Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

“Mixed Reality” headset could support surgery, rehab, learning

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Magic Leap has unveiled its “mixed reality” headset, where  virtual objects are integrated into the real world.  In addition to obvious gaming and entertainment applications, the system could be used in healthcare (including in surgery, surgery preparation, and orthopedic rehabilitation) and education.

The company remains vague in its description of its technology, but head and hand tracking functionality appear to have been added.   According to founder Rony Abramovitz, “Magic Leap doesn’t trick the brain. Rather it shoots photons into the eye that stimulate the cones and rods as if the hologram were real, or neurologically true.”

Click to view Magic Leap video.


Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences