Researchers use VR to help people with disabilities

Applications for virtual reality (VR) are almost endless, and now the immersion technology is used to develop new techniques to help people with amputated limbs use their prostheses. The work is carried out by researchers at the Lausanne Polytechnic School (EPFL). The project uses VR technology and neural stimulation to help change the sensations of the "phantom limb" amputation. It is necessary that patients feel the prosthesis more precisely, simplifying its use.

According to Medical view, studies conducted by scientists at the EPFL are aimed at showing that amputated people can be convinced that the prosthetic hand belongs to their own body.

"The brain regularly uses its senses to assess what is in the body and what is external to the body. We showed how vision and touch could be combined to deceive the amputated brain. We provide that feeling when the phantom limb is embodied in the prosthesis. The installation is portable and may one day be turned into therapy to help patients permanently embody a limb prosthesis, "explains Giulio Rogni from the EPFL cognitive neuroprotective lab, led by Olaf Blank, referring to Medical view.

To perform the technique, the amputated wear a VR-headset, through which they see a virtual limb prosthesis. Then, applying artificial tactile sensations to the nerve in the stump of the amputation, the team can create the illusion that some of their phantom limbs experience certain feelings. At the same time, the index finger in the virtual prosthesis will synchronously shine within the imposed tactile sensations, creating the illusion that the phantom limb and prosthetic limb are the same limbs.

The EPFL team released a short video in which the studies and their results were presented. You can look at them below.


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