Answered Questions: Virtual Therapy as a Therapeutic Tool – October 2021

Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. This month’s question is: My colleagues and I are physical and occupational therapists at a local rehabilitation center. In one of our forums, we read that virtual reality (VR) can be used as a therapeutic tool. Where can we find more information, research, and resources to use VR as therapy with our clients? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that discuss the development of a series of tools that help the acceptance and adoption of home technology through the use of VR; a comparison between two performance tests for identifying attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; VR therapy as a form of motor rehabilitation; video games in physical therapy; VR for the vocational rehabilitation of people with disabilities; VR-based game to help the literacy skills of students with intellectual disabilities; care approaches that may help shape the future of technology to support people with dementia; and more. More about Answered Questions.

NIDILRR-Funded Projects:

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Technologies to Support Aging-In-Place for People with Long-Term Disabilities (TechSAge RERC) (in English) advances knowledge and accelerates the development, modification, and testing of technology-based interventions and strategies for use in the home and community to promote aging-in-place and reduce secondary conditions among people with long-term disabilities. Researchers from TechSAge RERC are developing a series of tools that enable consumers to experience how different smart technologies would work in their own homes (in English) through the use of augmented and virtual realities and guide system installers on how to match technologies to meet the user’s needs. The poster “Contextualizing Smart Home Technologies with Augmented Reality Tools to Facilitate Aging in Place” (PDF – in English) provides information and examples of how the tools developed by the TechSAge RERC can be used.

From the NARIC Collection:

VR as an Assessment Tool:

The article, Comparison between two continuous performance tests for identifying ADHD: Traditional vs. virtual reality (abstract in English), discusses a study that compared the a VR continuous performance test (CPT) with a traditional CPT for identifying attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The researchers found that the VR CPT predicts ADHD presentations better than the traditional CPT. The findings show the potential advantages of using virtual reality in the assessment of ADHD in children, as it facilitates the diagnosis of ADHD and the differentiation of its presentations in a realistic environment.


The article, Virtual reality therapy for motor rehabilitation of hand function in post-stroke patients (abstract in English), discusses a study that reviewed the uses of VR therapy, based on current scientific evidence, and its effectiveness for the motor rehabilitation of hand function in patients after a stroke. VR therapy may help acute post-stroke patients improve their functional recovery and restore the function of the affected upper limb. However, the authors suggest that further clinical studies may be required to determine the actual effectiveness of these new therapies.

The article, Video games in physiotherapy of cerebral palsy (abstract in English), discusses a study to improve psychomotor development of children with cerebral palsy (CP) using video games in physical therapy. The results of this study show statistically significant evidence supporting improvement in balance, in patient satisfaction, and more adequate distribution in the load of lower limbs. The authors conclude that VR helps in achieving different objectives of physiotherapy, with interesting use to improve balance and postural control.


The article, Immersive virtual reality for vocational rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities (in English), discusses a virtual reality for vocational rehabilitation (VR4VR) system for vocational training and assessment of people with disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury, and severe mobility disabilities. The article discusses how VR4VR helps train individuals on transferrable skills, such as social skills, environmental awareness, and object manipulation with an assistive robot. A study of the VR4VR system found it promising in providing very effective vocational training to individuals with severe cognitive disabilities using virtual reality.


The article, A virtual reality based serious game to aid in the literacy of students with intellectual disability: Design principles and evaluation (in English), discusses a study that evaluated the potential of VR as an educational tool to support the literacy process of students with intellectual disabilities in Brazil. The results of the study demonstrated a positive evaluation of the game as a tool to aid in the development of literacy skills of students with intellectual disabilities. The findings indicate that VR has a potential to contribute to the inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities in the educational context.

Research In Focus:

Assistive technologies may provide supports to people with dementia that can augment the supports provided by family and professional caregivers. The article, Understanding Care Approaches May Help Shape the Future of Technology to Support with Disabilities, discusses a NIDILRR-funded study where researchers asked practitioners serving people with dementia about their strategies for supporting their clients to engage in meaningful activities, such as hobbies or volunteering. Based on the study results, the authors recommend two areas for assistive technology development and future research: The development of new technologies to support people with dementia in actively contributing to their communities and technology, such as virtual reality for simulated activities like cooking. This article is available in English.

From Other Collections:

The article, Augmented and Virtual Reality in the Framework of Disability and Inclusion from a University Perspective, highlights a study that discusses the great possibilities that augmented reality (AR) and VR offer to the inclusion of people with disabilities in college. The study found that over 80% of students with disabilities surveyed consider that AR and VR have important roles to play in improvement of inclusion of students with disabilities in college, but also their quality of life and well-being. The authors suggest that resources such as AR and VR may help strengthen the learning process of students with specific educational support needs and may increase the possibility of establishing relationships with other people, which may facilitate their inclusion in the ordinary classroom.

Further Research:

About Answered Questions

Each month, we look through the searches on our blog and through the information requests made by our patrons who speak Spanish and pick a topic that fills the largest need. Each resource mentioned below is associated with this month’s information need. We search the various Spanish language news sources and feeds throughout the month to bring you these articles. With the exception of the NIDILRR Projects and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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