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CUREosity explains: Paraplegia – application with CUREO and research studies

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

The second part of the article "CUREosity explains: Paraplegia" covers how our VR therapy system CUREO can be used for the rehabilitation of patients with paraplegia. In addition, we show the existing scientific literature on spinal cord injury and the novel advantages through VR and XR.

Can paraplegia be cured?

There is still no cure for paraplegia, but international research has been able to gather groundbreaking findings, especially in recent years.

New results and treatment methods, e.g. electrotherapy, innovative neurosurgery, neuroprosthetics, neuroinformatics and molecular therapeutic tools give hope that the consequences of paraplegia can one day be overcome. Unfortunately, partial success from studies are often prematurely viewed as a cure for paraplegia, but there is still a long way to go.

Alleviating the consequences of paraplegia

At the moment, modern therapeutic measures offer the opportunity to noticeably alleviate the consequences of paraplegia and to improve the quality of life long term. Experts agree that this requires a combination of several therapy modules.

Virtual reality therapy with multi-sensory movement feedback is ideally positioned to be one of these modules. Smart technologies accelerate progress and pave new paths within the realm of rehabilitation.

CUREO: Virtual Reality Therapy for Paraplegia

With CUREO, CUREosity has developed a clinic-compatible, multifunctional VR therapy system with multi-sensory movement feedback for cognitive and motor rehabilitation.

Therapists are relieved and patients are motivated and encouraged by CUREO. With our modular therapy software CUREO, we combine immersive VR technology and gamification with proven elements of physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

Through the mobile, compact system, therapy is made accessible to pateints without any problems. Paraplegics can train with CUREO lying down, in a wheelchair or in a fall-protected position, e.g. standing upright.

Therapy goals with CUREO for spinal cord injuries

The CUREO therapy aims to improve motor skills of the upper extremities, e.g. the coordination and expansion of range of motion, and strives to enhance postural control as well as the fine motor skills of the hand.

High-frequency therapy is intended to activate residual functions and set patients up for new movement patterns. In addition, the rehabilitation of sensory, motor and cognitive skills is supported.

CUREO enables the improvement of body perception, such as proprioception and self-regulation, through multimodal feedback. Another therapeutic goal is to reduce pain.

Innovative therapy functions

The possibilities of therapy are expanded through sonification, the translation of movement into sound, and mirror therapy.

Gaze control and car gripping also enable the highly paralyzed (quadriplegic) to immerse themselves in the world of therapy, to perform exercises and to experience self-efficacy.

A varied therapy program can be selected from 6 different modules and 16 therapy applications. The level of difficulty can be individually adapted to the patient's level of paralysis.

Progress statistics document the success of the therapy.

Sustainably increase therapy motivation

A systematic review by Yeo et al. proves that immersion in virtual reality and gamification can demonstrably increase the motivation for therapy.

In new environments and with a gamified approach, even repetitive exercises become a challenge that motivates and inspires patients. Therapy success is made visible in a playful way and create lasting motivation.

CUREosity Querschnittlähmung

Active relaxation for greater therapeutic success

In beach, mountain, forest or lake landscapes, relaxation and breathing exercises can be instructed by the therapist with the support of CUREO. The sonification and experience of self-efficacy in the colorful light therapy room can also lead to a reduction in stress and to an improvement in the overall condition.

Further goals of CUREO can be found here.

Research in the field of spinal cord injuries

More recent studies in particular demonstrate the high potential of VR and XR in the rehabilitation of paraplegics. We provide a breif summary in the following parapraphs.

A systematic review evaluating the use of VR in the rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries concluded that VR technology can optimally complement conventional therapeutic approaches [1]. VR-based rehabilitation proves to be extremely effective and produces an improvement in motor skills. According to several studies in recent years (1, 2), VR therapy has been well received by patients and increases motivation and willingness to train (compliance). In addition, the frequency of training can easily be increased, as VR devices can be used both in clinics and from the comfort of a patient’s home.

Boyle et al. point to further improvements through VR technology that have been observed in the rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries: improvements in balance, fine motor skills, and performing everyday tasks. In addition, a systematic review from 2019 noted improved posture, lung function and a reduction in pain perception.

Several studies report better results after using VR-based rehabilitation approaches in tests that evaluate motor and fine motor skills: Functional Reach Test, Functional Independence Measure, Limit of Stability, Berg Balance Scale, Timed Up and Go test, and Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury II scale.

VR-based technology therefore has a wide range of possible uses for patients with spinal cord injuries.


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