Editorials

Virtual reality in rehabilitation

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7022.4 (Published 06 January 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:4
  1. Michael Henning Andreae
  1. Research student Bagrit Centre for Biological and Medical Systems, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London SW7 2BX

    Potential benefits for people with disability or phobias

    Virtual reality is an interactive, computer generated environment that simulates the real world. Accessible via an interface that has been adapted to the human senses, it provokes in the user the sensation of immersion, like Alice in Wonderland crawling down the rabbit hole and finding herself in a new fantastic world.1 A dataglove wired with fibreoptics to record the degree of bending of fingers and wrists, a head-mounted display, and an exoskeleton surrounding the user's limbs to give feedback, project the user into the virtual environment and report back on his or her actions within it. The user can react intuitively to the virtual world, any actions being detected by position and movement sensors placed strategically on his or her body. A computer calculates the changes occurring in the virtual world according to the rules chosen by its creator and feeds the results back to the user. Applications appeal to disabled and non-disabled persons alike2: telepresence, for example, allows specialists to operate on patients in remote hospitals. Three applications of …

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