Therapy and Assessment in Embodied Virtual Reality: Accessible realism for exercising cognitive functions

Zack Lyons, Leon Watts

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter in a published conference proceeding


The practice and observation of daily living activities in real world settings is fundamental in the achievement of long-term rehabilitation objectives. Numerous factors may prevent clinicians from taking service users out into the community, frustrating attempts to perform relevant practice and to further service user progression goals. Virtual reality can be used to create settings akin to those encountered in the real world, particularly those that are difficult to repeatedly produce for training or assessment purposes. The embodied component of virtual reality induces a feeling of ‘being there’ such that service users can meaningfully plan and carry out activities to expose and exercise their higher cognitive functions in realistic settings. If designed in collaboration with clinical professionals, virtual environments can offer a controlled means of exposing service users to daily living activities in a safe and observable manner. Professionals from BIRT have directly contributed to the design of our environment, Z-world, as a mechanism for researching the potential of virtual reality for assessment and training for people living with a brain injury. We have found that an effective design should directly involve the clinician by allowing cognitive load on service users to be continually monitored and adjusted as they attempt each therapeutic activity. Clinical feedback suggests that behavioural recordings of activities carried out by service users in Z-world have the potential to support clinical decision making around assessment and training. The compelling nature of virtual reality might encourage service users to engage in therapeutically meaningful activities, enriching the experiences available to them. Virtual reality environments offer new opportunities to carry out activities of therapeutic and service user interest, extending the range of goals achievable in current rehabilitation settings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust Conference, 2017
Publication statusUnpublished - 28 Sept 2017
EventThe BIRT Conference 2017 #BIRT2017: Pioneering approaches, research and practice: the new world of brain injury rehabilitation - Hilton Glasgow, Glasgow, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Sept 201728 Sept 2017


ConferenceThe BIRT Conference 2017 #BIRT2017
Abbreviated titleBIRT2017
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom
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