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VIRTUAL REALITY AND BIOMECHANICS IN REHABILITATION OF PEOPLE AFTER STROKE – WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?

A stroke, CVA or brain attack is a neurological disease defined as a result of an insufficient blood supply to part of the brain. Blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen to the brain. Without blood the brain cells can be damaged or die. This damage can have different effects, depending on where it happens in the brain. In many cases (13%), the first and only manifestation of stroke is death (14% of all deaths in Europe annually). However, people surviving from a stroke (87%) face an uncertain future and life that may be affected by disability. The main consequences of a CVA can be the way the body moves, works, as well as emotional and behavioral changes. The very word “stroke” indicates that no one is ever prepared for this sudden, often catastrophic event.

CVA diseases are very common in EU countries; in fact, the number of CVA events in EU countries is likely to increase from 1.1 million per year in 2000 to more than 1.5 million per year in 2025 solely due the increasing of proportion of elderly people in the population*. In addition, CVA has very important consequences for the patients’ quality of life, but also for their families and careers.

According to some published statistics, over a third of stroke survivors in the EU are dependent on others, of those 1 in 5 are cared for by family and/or friends. One of the main causes of the lack of independence of neurological patients in general is the loss of coordination and balance, which can also affect the mobility to perform the activities of the daily living (ADL) safely.

In this sense, the physical rehabilitation can improve functions and can achieve remarkable recoveries for someone who suffered a neurological disease. The long-term goal of rehabilitation is to achieve that these patient can become as independent as possible.

This must be accomplished in a way that preserves dignity and motivates the patient to relearn basic skills that the neurological disease may have impaired like bathing, eating, dressing and walking.