Remember that scene from “Back to the Future II,” where Marty McFly was wearing those smart glasses where he saw an incoming call? It is impressive to see where technology has progressed since that pivotal scene to the introduction of virtual reality goggles. The creative minds from the past were somewhat on the money when it came to predict what the future may look like. Typically seen as a video game component, there has been introduction of virtual reality goggles into the medical world too, especially in the field of vestibular rehabilitation. The vestibular system is in your inner ear, and this system is primarily in charge of sending signals to your brain to let it be aware of the position of body in space. When this system works appropriately, it allows you to move your head from side to side while walking without feeling like you are going to topple over. When this system does not work appropriately, people may complain of symptoms of dizziness, loss of balance, and vertigo that can be apparent with positional changes as well, like getting up from the bed to a sitting position. These symptoms can affect many aspects of daily life, such as: driving, getting in and out of bed, walking down grocery store aisles, and prolonged periods of walking.
Physical Therapy can help with controlling this symptoms and “re-training” the vestibular system to get used to positional changes, and more challenging environments. Rehabilitation for vestibular disorders are mainly focused on balance integration exercises, as well as introducing challenging environments. One of the ways we can simulate environments in the clinic is using virtual reality. Having the patient put on goggles that simulate a moving environment while performing a task can help in strengthening the communication with the brain and vestibular system. The simulation allows the patient to be in controlled, safe environment with a physical therapist before the improvements can be carried over to the real world.
Most gaming virtual reality goggle sets can range up to $1000! Luckily, with the advancements of technology and smart phone apps, we can mimic some of this technology for best cost efficiency in the clinic, as well as for patients to take home and practice with. The goggles we use in our Clermont clinic are within the $10-15 range to make sure that any patient who wants to continue a program can afford to do so, and the smart phone app to have stimulating environments is free!
Alec Martinez, DPT specializes in vestibular therapy at Hohman Rehab in Clermont, Florida. His patients typically get better in as little as 1-4 visits! Call us today to schedule your evaluation 855-404-6908.