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CUREosity explains: Embodiment

Updated: Jul 26, 2021

With CUREO, patients experience embodiment via a biomechanical avatar that is mapped in virtual reality. But what exactly is embodiment? We want to explore this question in this blog post of the series "CUREosity explained".

What does embodiment mean?

"Embodiment" or "incarnation" refers in psychology primarily to the conscious, mindful awareness of one's own body in order to regulate one's psychological well-being. The image of one's own body is based on the environment surrounding us, in which we are exposed to sensory stimuli on the one hand. These can be of a visual or auditory nature, for example. On the other hand, we perform motor activities. Neuronal patterns are created in the brain, which result in an internal map and represent an image of our own body and the objects around us.

Sensory, motor and internal map

Neuronal impairments can lead to either motor, sensory or internal map damage, ultimately negatively affecting the other components as well. For example, if sensory input is missing, motor skills may be impaired and the internal map may also be distorted. The affected person can no longer use the previously established patterns because his body image is disturbed, which in turn can lead as well to pain.

CUReosity explains Embodiment

Impairments due to hemiparesis or neglect

In cases of hemiparesis or neglect following a stroke, patients often suffer from impaired motor function due to a lack of sensory input from one side of the body. The interruption of information processing can lead to problems regarding posture as well as balance.

With the current therapy methods it is hardly possible or only with high effort to relearn the interaction of motor function, sensory function and the internal map. A completely new mapping must be created so that the task-relevant inputs and outputs can be processed again by the patient. Unfortunately, only a few affected people have access to appropriate therapy, so most have to resign themselves to their situation.

Embodiment with CUREO

With CUREO, a new approach is being pursued. Using a biomechanical avatar, patients see their body in virtual reality. Their movements are transferred to those of the avatar, giving them the opportunity to perceive their body in a new way. CUREO provides multisensory feedback, for example through visual or auditory cues, as well as motor movement tracking for sensorimotor feedback to optimally treat the impaired patients.

Development of a new body image

CUREO is the first immersive, interactive VR therapy system in which body and environmental perception can be fine-tuned to the patient's limitations. In this way, neglected areas can be successively addressed again in small steps.

Embodiment CUREosity

In all modules of the system, an avatar-based mirror function can also be switched on, with which the patient's movements can be mirrored at the touch of a button. The reintegration of the body through mirror therapy, as well as the positive visualization of the virtual avatar, can also alleviate patients' pain.

These functions and the different exercises tailored to the affected person lead to the three components of sensory, motor and internal map interacting with each other again and a new body image developing.


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