VR Exercise Integral for Fibromyalgia Rehabilitation

Exergames Address Multiple Issues Surrounding Exercise For Those With Fibromyalgia

To address the symptoms of fibromyalgia and restore physical function to FM participants, VirtualEx-FM uses three distinct virtual environments.

  1. Aerobic

Prior research has shown that light to moderate aerobic exercise helps decrease pain, fatigue, and depression in FM patients. The aerobic component of VirtualEx-FM incorporates full-body movements performed by a professional kinesiologist and dance instructor. The user completes a warm up followed by either a full-body joint movement workout or a dance video similar to Zumba, a popular form of group exercise.

  1. Coordination & Posture

FM patients often have poor coordination and posture because FM affects their body’s connective tissues including muscles, ligaments and tendons. Strengthening the foundation of the body, the core, is one of the best ways to build muscle and reestablish coordination and posture.

The second component of VirtualEx-FM focuses on improving coordination and controlling posture. In this virtual game, the user interacts with an apple that appears in different locations. The low-impact movements are based on core strengthening exercises. The level difficulty is controlled by a technician which allows the user to continually improve because the difficulty of the program can be increased as the user progresses in strength.

  1. Mobility, Balance, & Coordination

FM is often associated with poor balance caused by pain in the body’s connective tissues and severe headaches or dizziness which leads to the fear of falling. Mobility, balance, and coordination are all vital to conducting normal daily life activities.

The third component of VirtualEx-FM helps improve mobility, balance, and coordination via a game where the user steps on “virtual footprints.” The study states that the steps range from taking normal steps to tiptoeing to heel-walking, or raising their knees or heels while taking steps.

This component is also controlled by a technician who can manipulate the difficulty of the game thus making it more or less challenging according to the user’s mobility, balance, and coordination level.

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