Virtual Hand Therapy; A Revolutionary Change in Upper Extremity Rehabilitation

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After Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for virtual hand therapy is constantly increasing because it is simple, convenient, and time-saving for both therapists and patients. As a hand therapist, you may have your own private clinic to treat patients physically, but if you start providing virtual hand therapy consultation, many patients will benefit from it irrespective of location boundaries. Now hand therapists in different countries leverage the technological potential to deliver better hand therapy treatment virtually. Video consultation, remote monitoring process, and Virtual Reality (VR) are the three crucial components of establishing virtual hand therapy.

Now patients can easily access quality hand therapy from the comfort and convenience of their homes.

 Key elements of Virtual Hand therapy are

  • Virtual Reality ( VR)
  • Remote monitoring process

VR technology is basically used for pain management, and the remote monitoring process is implemented to track the progress of rehabilitative care.

In this article, we’ll discuss the significant contributions of Virtual Reality (VR) and the Remote Monitoring Process ( RMP) in virtual hand therapy.

Virtual Reality ( VR) & Remote Monitoring Process; Two Important Key Elements of Virtual Hand therapy

Before sharing the working principles of Virtual Reality in hand therapy, let’s define it first.

What is Virtual Reality (VR)?

The term Virtual Reality ( VR)  was introduced by Jaron Lanier in 1987. VR is the application of computer modeling and simulation that allows users to interact with artificial three-dimensional visual or other sensory environments. The computer-generated environment promotes sensory stimuli like actual reality through the use of interactive devices which send and receive information, and these devices are available in the form of gloves, headsets, bodysuits, or These devices create an illusion of being there, also known as “Telepresence”. For example, wearing data gloves integrated with force-feedback devices can offer the sensation of touch. Even users can pick up an object and change its position in the virtual environment.

Why has it been implemented in Hand therapy?

The literature review- “Virtual reality Hand therapy; A new tool for non-opioid analgesia for acute procedural pain, hand rehabilitation and VR embodiment therapy for phantom limb painproposed that Virtual Reality can maximize the medical outcomes of hand therapy by reducing the pain intensity. When a patient wears a VR device, say goggles or headset, he is in a virtual 3-D world and being in VR helps to reduce patients’ excruciating pain. Basically Virtual Reality follows the principle of attention distraction. Again Gamified VR motivates patients to continue hand therapy exercises by playing engaging games.

in this case, you can help your patients to manage their pain during hand therapy with the help of virtual reality-based devices. This technology reduces the patient-noncompliance rate due to pain and motivates them to continue hand therapy to restore hand functionalities..

Attention distraction through VR; A clinically meaningful method of pain management in rehab care

Patients with hand conditions  are often unable to continue physiotherapy or hand therapy due to their pain issues during exercise.  Here therapist can use the VR technology for pain management.Here therapists ask their patients to wear a pair of VR Goggles and interact with the virtual object in a 3-D virtual world during hand therapy. When a patient is treated with virtual reality, his brain gets into “divided attention” mode. It is a method of limiting attention to pain during hand therapy by focusing on the computer-generated virtual world. Here some part of the brain is flooded with pleasant sensory inputs.

Let's define the Remote monitoring process (RMP)

The remote monitoring process is another important segment of virtual hand therapy. It is a promising virtual care management program to accomplish better patient outcomes. The remote monitoring process covers non-physiological therapeutic data, including adherence to the therapy program, patients’ consistency level, and pain level. Many hand therapy devices are used in the remote monitoring process to automatically track and report relevant data to a hand therapist for more effective care without moving from one place to another. With the help of the remote monitoring process, healthcare providers can make more comprehensive patient evolutions and prepare highly effective hand therapy programs that cater to patients’ needs.

Socio-economic benefits of Virtual Hand therapy

VR and remote monitoring processes bring revolutionary changes in hand therapy, and the consequence is “Virtual Hand Therapy”. There are significant socio-economic benefits of virtual hand therapy.

Let’s point them down below:

  • The whole process is user-friendly, with easy communication methods. Patients don’t have to travel or spend long hours in the waiting room.
  • It saves both time and cost for both therapist & patients
  • Both of them spend less time away from their personal & other professional commitments

Clinical benefits of virtual hand therapy

  • Patients are more satisfied with virtual hand therapy, & therapists receive valuable insights out of it.
  • Better adherence to treatment helps patients to manage patients’ pain level and improve hand functionality.
  • The remote monitoring process retrieves more data from associated hand devices or wearables. That helps therapists to make data-driven decisions and design personalized hand therapy programs for each patient.

If you are looking for a device that qualifies for the remote monitoring process & virtual hand therapy, then you can opt for SQUEGG™, a digital blue-tooth-enabled dynamometer, smarter than an analogue dynamometer.

In our previous blog, we talked about it in detail. You can check out another blog on how Squegg qualifies for remote monitoring.

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