Brain Neurorehabil.  2010 Sep;3(2):77-85. 10.12786/bn.2010.3.2.77.

Motor Learning by Novel Therapeutic Approaches: Virtual Reality and Robotics

  • 1Department of Stroke Rehabilitation, National Rehabilitation Center, Korea.


Recent emphasis on motor learning approach and advances in rehabilitation engineering facilitated new development of therapeutic systems in neurorehabilitation. Virtual reality and robotic technology has been applied to provide stimulating and challenging environment in which participants can practice tasks repetitively, to augment feedback of performance, and to guide precise and repetitive movement. Virtual reality is a computer-based technology that provide real-time interactive and multisensory simulated environment. It has been adopted in upper limb rehabilitation, gait training, and driver retraining. Virtual reality can be either immersive or nonimmersive depending on the components used in the system, and immersive environment seems to be more effective in rehabilitation. By providing enhanced feedback, environments offering motivation and tasks meaningful to participants, virtual reality can facilitate motor learning. Robotic systems can be classified into 2 types: exoskeleton and end-effector. A lot of robotic systems have been developed and used for upper limb exercise and gait training. Studies revealed those systems are beneficial to enhance arm motor function and walking ability. Application of robotics in rehabilitation has several advantages: enabling massed practice by increasing therapy intensity and amount; provision of force feedback; possibility of automating therapy sessions; setup of therapy specific to individuals; precise, objective and reliable assessment of motor function. Combination of virtual reality and robotics would make it possible to develop better rehabilitation systems that could enhance motor learning in more effective way.


motor learning; rehabilitation; robotics; virtual reality
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