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Innovation Updated: 22 Aug 2017

Motor rehabilitation of the shoulder using virtual reality

A group of researchers at the Carlos III University in Madrid have developed a prototype of a tool that combines virtual reality with a movement sensor for exercises for the rehabilitation of the shoulder.

BBVA Medical (health) insurance concept

As part of of the European Union's SEACW program (Social Ecosystem for Antiaging, Capacitation and Well-Being), a group of researchers from the Carlos III University have developed a prototype to stimulate motor rehabilitation using virtual reality, among other technologies.

Combining an Oculus Rift DK2 and a RealSense movement sensor, and applying software developed on a multiplatform motor such as Unity, they have built a game prototype with undeniable therapeutic value.


The patient puts on the virtual reality glasses and enters an environment simulating a soccer pitch. A floating hand mirrors the movements of the user's hand in a perfect exercise for increased proprioception, the still unresolved issue of visual deception in virtual reality.  At this point balls come flying towards the patient, who has to use his or her arms to stop them.

his system is estimated to be able to reduce the time required for rehabilitation to around 20 minutes in some patients. For the time being it is only a prototype, but this is definitely an idea in which it is worth "investing time until a marketable product is achieved", according to the researcher Alejandro Baldominos.

Although the prototype currently only considers the movements of adduction and abduction, Baldominos is considering covering the other four movements of the shoulder: flexion, extension, and internal and external rotation and "perhaps even creating more games to rehabilitate other parts of the body".