What can virtual reality offer to stroke patients? A narrative review of the literature

Joanna Szczepańska-Gieracha, Błażej Cieślik, Sebastian Rutkowski, Paweł Kiper, Andrea Turolla

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Studies demonstrated the efficacy of virtual reality (VR) as a method supporting the post-stroke neuro-rehabilitation process by activating motor learning processes. Nevertheless, stroke is frequently accompanied by serious psychological problems including depression, which is associated with an increased risk of mortality, lower post-stroke physical activity, and higher disability in stroke patients. OBJECTIVES: To explore the current use of VR as a method supporting the neuro-rehabilitation process, both in physical and psychological dimensions. METHODS: An exploratory review was conducted with a narrative synthesis. PubMed was used for literature search. Search includes the use of VR in physical rehabilitation, and as support therapy in psychiatric disorders. Both primary research and systematic reviews were included. RESULTS: In neurological disorders rehabilitation, out of 22 studies, 16 concerned stroke survivors. In psychiatric disorders, 44 literature reviews were included. CONCLUSION: The studies confirmed the effectiveness of various forms of VR treatment in the alleviation of psychological and behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. There is a shortage of VR-based technological solutions that would, besides physical rehabilitation, offer stroke patients therapeutic tools to alleviate psychological disturbance and improve the patient's mood and motivation. Such solutions will most likely become a field of intensive research in the coming years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-120
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • depression
  • Narrative literature review
  • post-stroke rehabilitation
  • stroke
  • total immersion
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology


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