TSU helps a project for the VR rehabilitation of disabled people

17 May 2021

TSU Scientific and Educational Center for Advanced Research in Social and Cognitive Sciences is developing a partnership with the VR GO project team. The goal of the project is to make rehabilitation for people with disabilities accessible and more effective; for this, a program of motor rehabilitation using Virtual Reality technologies is being developed. The TSU side, using methods of working with big data, helps the authors of the project with the search for people who would benefit from this program.

VR GO technology is based on the principle of association of real and virtual movement between a person and their digital avatar. Using the Oculus Quest VR glasses, the user intuitively understands how to control the avatar's movements. Here is the principle of the ideomotor act: as soon as the idea of ​​movement arises, nerve impulses appear that provide it. This helps to form new neural networks for building human movements. Patients can study both in a medical institution and at home, continuing the rehabilitation course after the end of hospitalization.

A new step in the development of the project was the search for communities of people with disabilities who could be helped by this methodology.

- Our collaboration with the VR GO project began in October 2020. I am looking for social network pages of people with disabilities - who have problems with the musculoskeletal system, and rehabilitation therapists involved in their recovery, - explains Ekaterina Mishchenko, a staff member of the TSU Laboratory of Experimental Methods in Social and Cognitive Sciences. - There are various ways to search for information on the Internet. I use the analysis of the content of pages and communities in social networks and form a list of linguistic markers for further automatic search of the necessary data. The VR GO project is very socially significant, and we are glad that we are contributing to it.

The founder of the VR GO project is Nikolay Muravyev, a graduate of the TSU Institute of Arts and Culture. In 2010, at a ski lodge, he had a spinal injury and lost the ability to walk.

- After the operation, a neurosurgeon said that to speed up the rehabilitation, I needed to mentally move my legs. It was difficult because for a long time I was immobilized and my brain did not remember how to do it. All this time I was doing rehabilitation, studying different technologies, and one day I saw VR glasses. So I created the idea to transfer movements from the head to virtual reality, - recalls Nikolai Muravyov.

Initially, the technique was developed for the rehabilitation of patients with pathologies of the musculoskeletal system associated with spinal cord injuries. Gradually, the project team concluded that their method is also suitable for rehabilitation for other diseases, including autoimmune diseases, for example, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy, when a person from birth did not have the correct movement pattern.

Now the team is preparing more comprehensive studies that focus on stroke patients. The conditions for conducting rehabilitation sessions and the time frames allotted for them have also changed.

With communities focused on people with disabilities, the VR GO project team establishes feedback in the form of surveys - about pathologies, rehabilitation, well-being, and problems faced by people with disabilities.