Go virtual to get real: Virtual reality as a resource for spinal cord treatment

Erik Leemhuis, Rita Maria Esposito, Luigi De Gennaro, Mariella Pazzaglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasingly, refined virtual reality (VR) techniques allow for the simultaneous and coher-ent stimulation of multiple sensory and motor domains. In some clinical interventions, such as those related to spinal cord injuries (SCIs), the impact of VR on people′s multisensory perception, move-ments, attitudes, and even modulations of socio‐cognitive aspects of their behavior may influence every phase of their rehabilitation treatment, from the acute to chronic stages. This work describes the potential advantages of using first‐person‐perspective VR to treat SCIs and its implications for manipulating sensory‐motor feedback to alter body signals. By situating a patient with SCI in a virtual environment, sensorial perceptions and motor intention can be enriched into a more coher-ent bodily experience that also promotes processes of neural regeneration and plasticity. In addition to the great potential of research, the most significant areas of interest concern is managing neuro-pathic pain, motor rehabilitation, and psychological well‐being.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1819
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2 2021


  • Body representation
  • Deafferentation
  • Disembodied
  • Neuro-plasticity
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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