The project will work closely with occupational therapists and academic staff, bridging spatial computing versions of rehabilitation exercises to everyday use of the VR applications. The user orientated process will involve people with lived experiences and interprofessional teams as co-creators. Solutions developed will be used both in structured rehabilitation and in-patient settings as well as continued, transferred and applied in community settings and/or people’s own homes.
SiliconHagen will be developing a series of neuro rehabilitation applications based on the skills and experience from occupational therapists currently working in both hospital and community settings. The first application will be Forest Bathing.
Forest bathing helps suppress the sympathetic nervous system (the 'fight or flight' part that makes your heart beat faster and high blood pressure) and it enhances the parasympathetic (rest-and-recover) nervous system.
Forest bathing has also been shown to boost the NK (natural killer) cells that attack your damaged cells in the body.
Virtual reality will be able to supplement real life rehabilitation in the natural environment. Nearly all senses will be activated and the guided journey will immerse people into the many layers of a forest that involves interaction, reflection and being able to control breathing, concentration and energy management.
“As you approach the tree look for any patterns on the tree,are there raised areas,spots on the tree. Walk closer and look nearer. Get ever closer to the structures in the tree and what you can see on the ground”
The forest bathing application will replicate rehabilitation activities using the natural environment as devised and planned by occupational therapists. Messages and techniques can be difficult for people to remember, engage with or persist with after a relatively few structured rehabilitation sessions. Virtual reality versions of forests and guided rehabilitation will allow for users to familiarise themselves with the key elements at play and create new routines in a safe environment at the time of their choosing.
The virtual forest will include many layers involving immersion into the micro and nano levels of the natural environment. All levels will enhance and improve the ability to get close to the elements that evidence based practice has shown to enhance the rehabilitative impact.
Another goal is to increase equal access to natural environment settings used for rehabilitation even though mobility, location or other barriers might prevent both professionals and people from getting to a forest or similar setting.
As people go through in-patient care and community based rehabilitation, VR will be a bridging therapeutic tool that will follow them throughout their journey with improvement of outcomes linked to daily living and reablement.
The extended reality/virtual reality applications will not be seen as lone standing products but as a supplement to existing rehabilitation provision. The solutions will be set in the wider context of innovative digital and telemedicine provision intended to increase health, mobility and reablement outcomes without losing the personal engagement and therapeutic interaction. Existing provision will be enhanced, adding new layers of immersive activities in a blended approach of home based and centre based treatment and rehabilitation.