Virtual Reality (VR) Hand Therapy: A new approach for acute procedural pain & hand rehabilitation

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As a hand therapist, you may want to advance your treatment procedure by minimizing the pain.

Primarily  pain discourages and demotivates patients from completing their hand rehabilitation program. Excruciating pain has become a significant obstacle, and patients are afraid of continuing their therapy because of it. Therefore, they try to avoid stretching and other range of motion exercises.

However, Virtual Reality ( VR) is helping medical science overcome this obstacle. In this article, we are going to talk about Virtual Reality and its application in hand therapy.

So, before talking about the Virtual reality application, let’s define it first.

Virtual Reality is a computer-based device that triggers visual stimuli on a wall screen display, just like video games. This technology helps to maximize the medical outcome of patients undergoing hand therapy.

How does VR help:

  1. VR helps to reduce the intensity of pain sensation during hand therapy
  2. Motivates patients to perform therapeutic hand exercises
  3. Makes hand therapy more engaging and fruitful.
  4. Monitor how well patients are performing their hand exercises
  5. Even assess the efficacy of the ongoing hand therapy treatments

Therefore, you can use Virtual Reality to treat acute pain and lack of range of motion issues among patients and amplify the therapeutic outcome.

We’ve noted the difference between VR rehabilitation and Conventional rehab care for clarification. Read till the end for a better idea.

Virtual reality rehabilitation VS Conventional rehab care

Virtual Reality helps to make hand rehabilitation less painful. It follows the attention distraction method. It is one of the simplest psychological treatments for acute pain. The adjunctive immersive Virtual Reality takes distraction to a new level and makes it clinically effective in minimizing acute pain.

VR ameliorates pain via the distracted attention mechanism. Without virtual Reality, patients experience pain during therapy both physically and mentally. In contrast, therapy with VR takes patients’ minds to a different place.

VR puts the patients’ brains into “divided attention” mode, which reduces the feeling of pain drastically.

Most of cases, professionals like occupational therapists or hand therapists use VR Goggles. They ask their patients to wear it during acute procedural pain rehabilitation care. When a patient wears it, his mind drives into a computer-generated virtual world; It means his mind gets completely distracted from therapeutic pain and floods with pleasant sensory inputs.


A study was performed in 2009 with upper limb burnt patients. Hand therapists have performed rehabilitative range of motion exercise tests with and without Virtual Reality among patients.

They found an unbelievable result.

Patients reported more pain during their range of motion exercise without VR than with VR. Even they love to wear VR Goggles during their rehabilitation sessions.

The result clearly reflects that VR effectively eliminates the obstacle of pain and makes the range of motion exercise more effective and engaging. Therefore, Virtual Reality can be a practical approach to increasing patient compliance.

Advancement of Virtual Reality (VR) technology and its application in hand therapy

  • Virtual Reality Goggles

    VR technology is widely used in Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy, and Hand therapy. The Virtual reality Goggle is the recent innovation of Virtual Reality. Researchers have seen that VR Goggle significantly decreases pain during treatments.

    The Virtual reality goggles come with eye-tracking technology. Experts mount  miniature video cameras inside it to track patients’ eye movement. Here patients can use eye movements to interact with the virtual world.

    As a hand therapist, you can include these Goggles in your treatment

    With virtual reality goggles, you can treat patients with limited hand mobility. Movement-free interactive sessions with VR via eye-tracking treatment could be beneficial for stroke patients and paralyzed/ partially paralyzed patients.

    Ask your patients to wear VR Goggles.

    What will they see?

    They will see their cyber hand clenching and unclenching. You can ask your patients to use these movements of their virtual hands to communicate with virtual objects available in the computer-generated 3-D world.

    Optical Hand Tracking

    The camera-based optical hand tracking technology brings revolutionary changes in the field of hand therapy. It has significant therapeutic values. It tracks patients’ hand movements, wrist movements, and gestures to interact with the virtual Reality as a part of their hand rehab session.

    Initially, therapists used a goniometer to measure the range of motion of the wrist, fingers, and other joints. It was considered the “gold standard” measurement of joint range of motion. But with VR optical tracking technology, you can measure wrist and hand movements in real-time.

    Isn’t it helpful?

    Optical camera tracking allows you to assess more complex but logically valid movements of the fingers and wrist of your patients.


    Now Optical hand tracking technology is integrated with a VR helmet. Therefore, it can track patients’ hand movements (clenching and unclenching) in the real world.


    With all these technological advancements, the rehab session has become less painful for patients because they don’t have to hold any controller in their hands.

    As a hand therapist, you may want to give the best treatment with reduced pain. Virtual Reality makes your therapeutic session more effective yet less painful.

    Gamification of Virtual Reality makes the rehabilitation procedure patient-friendly and facilitates hand/finger movements during hand therapy. With Gamified virtual Reality, hand therapy has become engaging with more fun.

    Apart from Virtual Reality, many other  technologies are involved in improving hand rehabilitation quality, such as wearable technology, Augmented Reality, Robotics & EEG technologies, Artificial intelligence, biofeedback, and Gamification. These technologies help increase patient compliance and make hand therapy more engaging and fruitful.

    One such revolutionary tech product is Squegg; The Digital Grip Strengthener. 

    It is not like a conventional hand gripper; Very different than that.

    The Bluetooth-enabled dynamometer not only measures and tracks but also helps improve your patient’s grip strength.

    With the Squegg ball, Grip strengthening exercises are not boring anymore. Gamified application along with grip strengthener make it unique.

    Therapists worldwide like this product and include it in their hand rehab sessions.

    Add Squegg Digital Grip Strengthener to your hand rehabilitation program and create a difference.

    With advanced equipment like Squegg, you can deliver a promising treatment!

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