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Development and Evaluation of Intelligent Immersive Virtual Reality Games to Assist Physical Rehabilitation

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Physical rehabilitation is an intensive process that often holds many challenges for patients such as a lack of engagement, accessibility, and personalization. Immersive media systems enhanced with serious games afford an opportunity to address these challenges. In this dissertation work, we examine a series of case studies on the gamification of various physical therapy methods (Constraint Induced Movement Therapy and Mirror Visual Feedback Therapy) within immersive virtual environments. We also present novel systems towards personalizing immersive virtual reality experiences for greater emotional and physical intelligence. Through this work, we link immersive virtual reality with the concepts of therapy, human behavior theory, and biofeedback, towards the aim of achieving a high-level overview of serious applications with a particular emphasis on physical rehabilitation. We conclude with discussion on a series of large scale studies that uncover therapist needs and long-term usage of immersive virtual reality for physical therapy. The findings of this work contribute to future usages of immersive virtual reality for physical therapy that can assist both patients and therapists in overcoming barriers related to low engagement, lack of time, location inaccessibility, and success measure accuracy.

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