Virtual Reality in the real world
November 11, 2011
Posted by:Jo Chapman
Birmingham University's new Centre for Virtual Reality (VR) Learning and Rehabilitation aims to transform lives by ensuring that once-debilitating injuries and disorders can be overcome, one step at a time.
When people suffer brain injuries, it can be too traumatic or dangerous to be adequately treated in the real world - a world of moving traffic, uneven surfaces, physical obstacles, and unseen but immense psychological and emotional pressures. The new VR Centre will allow people to be treated in a fully controlled environment and will provide important research that underpins treatment all over the world.
The Virtual Reality Learning and Rehabilitation Centre is the only one of its kind in Europe and will include an immersive, multi-sensory dome in which effective rehabilitation methods can be studied and developed in safe and entirely controllable, virtual reality environments. Here patients can perform complex motor activities under the supervision and guidance of neurological experts, safely taking the first steps in their recovery, from virtual to reality.
There are more than a quarter of a million new cases of brain injury in the U.K. every year, whether as a result of stroke or head trauma. Stroke accounts for over 53,000 deaths a year in the U.K. - the third highest cause of death after heart disease and cancer - and over 450,000 people are severely disabled as a result of strokes. In addition, the effects of ageing will become an increasing concern as the number of elderly people accelerates dramatically over the next few decades.
Dr Michael Grey, Senior Lecturer in Neurorehabilitation at the University says "The research we do will help to develop more successful training and rehabilitation methods for disorders of movement and balance, thus improving quality of life more quickly."