Abstract

Importance: Head-mounted displays for virtual reality (HMD–VR) may be used as a therapeutic medium in physical rehabilitation because of their ability to immerse patients in safe, controlled, and engaging virtual worlds.

Objective: To explore how HMD–VR has been used in adult physical rehabilitation.

Data Sources: A systematic search of MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, Web of Science, PsycINFO, and ERIC produced 11,453 abstracts, of which 777 underwent full-text review.

Study Selection and Data Collection: This scoping review includes 21 experimental studies that reported an assessment or intervention using HMD–VR in a physical rehabilitation context and within the scope of occupational therapy practice.

Findings: HMD–VR was used for assessment and intervention for patients with a range of disorders, including stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and Parkinson’s disease.

Conclusions and Relevance: HMD–VR is an emerging technology with many uses in adult physical rehabilitation. Higher quality clinical implementation studies are needed to examine effects on patient outcomes.

What This Article Adds: We review existing research on how immersive virtual reality (e.g., using head-mounted displays) has been used for different clinical populations in adult physical rehabilitation and highlight emerging opportunities in this field for occupational therapists.

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