Using virtual reality in clinical practice: A multi-site exploratory study.
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BACKGROUND: Virtual reality (VR) is a relatively new treatment tool with emerging evidence supporting its use in neurorehabilitation, although no information exists about how therapists use VR clinically. OBJECTIVE: This study's purpose was to document current practice in GestureTek VR use for inpatient acquired brain injury (ABI) rehabilitation as a benchmark for clinicians integrating the approach into practice, and to inform future research to improve its clinical applicability. METHODS: As part of a larger study examining barriers and facilitators to VR use, participating therapists at two rehabilitation centres documented descriptive data about client demographics and VR treatment programme characteristics for 29 ABI clients on their caseloads over eight months. RESULTS: Differences between the clinical population and published research samples were apparent. Treatment characteristics and several outcomes of interest paralleled those in the literature; however, novel outcome areas were identified as research gaps. By study's end, more than half of clients' VR programmes had been discontinued, for reasons consistent with documented barriers to VR use. CONCLUSIONS: These findings can help bridge the knowledge-to-action gap by informing the design of research that has high clinical relevance, and by providing a point of reference for clinicians incorporating VR into their practices.
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