Journal of Athletic EnhancementISSN: 2324-9080

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Virtual Reality in Sport Rehabilitation: A Narrative Review

Objective: In the past two years, the social distancing practice of COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in the demand of remote health service, including teleconsultation and telerehabilitation. With technology advances, research in the use of virtual reality for rehabilitation has emerged in recent years. This narrative review will provide the latest overview of rehabilitation using virtual reality in musculoskeletal condition, with a particular focus on sports injuries. This review aims to investigate the effectiveness of virtual reality and summarise the potential benefits, concerns, and the future of virtual reality in the field of rehabilitation.

Results: Virtual reality has been employed in rehabilitation of gait and postural control in various medical conditions, in which it has been shown to be effective. Apart from postural rehabilitation, the use of virtual reality has also been studied in the rehabilitation of various musculoskeletal conditions. Several studies have investigated the use of virtual reality for patient after ACL reconstruction, and the results are promising. Besides physical rehabilitation, virtual reality offers psychological preparation for patients to return to sports. Virtual reality offers various advantages to conventional rehabilitation. This includes reducing therapist’s workload, enhancing patient’s autonomy, psychological preparation through near-real-life scenario, offering complex assessment, readily available at home and increasing enjoy ability and compliance. However, there are still challenges for using virtual reality for rehabilitation, for example, need for technical expertise, motion sickness, lack of supervision by therapist and questionable accuracy of motion tracking.

Conclusion: In summary, using virtual reality in rehabilitation has shown early success, however, there are still challenges and questions to be explored. Up to now, there is no high-level evidence supporting the use of virtual reality in rehabilitation. Further research is encouraged in this field in order to provide a better understanding of its effectiveness.

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