Virtual Environment Sensorimotor Hand Dexterity Training System

K.G. August (Switzerland, UK, USA), M. Sellathurai (UK), D. Bleichenbacher,A. Skairek, G. Fluet, A. Merians, and S. Adamovich (USA)

Keywords

Virtual Reality, Rehabilitation, Biomechanics, Patient Monitoring.

Abstract

Virtual Environments (VE) can be used to structure, organize, and control sensorimotor experiences (stimuli and feedback), activities, instructions (explicit or implicit), dialogues including those embodied by Virtual Avatar Teachers for observation and imitation of others or by Personal Proxy, provide haptics and kinematic support, enable intensive repetitions and practice, and interactions with real or virtual objects in ways unachievable through conventional means. The Virtual Environment Sign Language Instruction System (VESLI), designed to provide sensorimotor hand dexterity training and performance measurement features, incorporates virtual reality exercises mapped to specific impairments underlying dysfunction of the hand and organized in levels of difficulty. One goal of the VESLI design is to provide hand dexterity training even when the patient is unable to move adequately enough to participate in traditional therapies. Ten control subjects practiced hand dexterity exercises with the VESLI system using a learning and memory protocol. When studying with natural hands, pictures helped in learning the gestures, and text definitions helped in recall. Meanwhile with virtual hands avatars, the picture descriptions resulted in better performance. Sensorimotor experience in VE might be capable of providing safe and appropriate task-based sensory stimulation and feedback to extend available and early therapies to those in need.

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