Virtual Reality: A New Tool for Occupational Therapists?


Video games have been slowly implementing virtual reality (VR) to create a more intimate experience with gamers. The scope of virtual reality, however, isn’t limited to entertainment. Researchers and doctors are looking to VR for medical uses in psychiatry and occupational therapy. According to studies, virtual reality can help treat phobias or post-traumatic stress disorder. Could VR be a new tool for occupational therapists?

Why Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality allows the player to be part of a scenario mentally and physically. In a virtual experience, players won’t be strained or frustrated by repeating the same exercises during therapy. A virtual reality game takes a player’s mind off of the fact that he just finished ten repetitions of the same movement while achieving a high score. The game provides immediate feedback with interactive environments. Instead of sitting in a doctor’s office pulling on a machine, players could be pulling a slingshot and shooting targets with the same motion. Because basic movements can be used to interact with the VR game, occupational therapists have started to implement these games into therapy sessions.

VR for Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy benefits greatly from virtual reality. In a traditional therapy session, there may not be enough repetitions of a limb movement to gain motor improvement efficiently. Virtual reality allows for more repetitions making for a quicker development of motor skills. These games take patients’ minds off of the fact that they’re completing repetitions of the same movement. Games also add a sense of accomplishment when a player achieves a high score and create a more fun way for patients to stay motivated during therapy sessions. Games can be customized for rehabbing a body part after an accident or changed depending on the motor skill that needs training. Games can also be designed to focus on assessing the upper limbs while simultaneously strengthening lower limbs.

In occupational therapy, virtual reality is still in its early stages but it is steadily evolving. In the near future, it’s expected that VR therapy will become more prominent and commonplace in the occupational therapy field. As technology advances, therapy techniques become more intuitive and creative. Virtual reality games allow for a different approach to therapy for patients and give them more options for treatment.

Ardor Health Solutions can help you find a healthcare position. If your focus is occupational therapy, our job listings page might be the perfect tool for you. Occupational therapy techniques are always evolving and the quicker you find a position, the faster you can start implementing these techniques yourself!