Crédits photos : Iceberg
VR project supported by patronage from Paul Monnier, tetraplegic and founder of the association Défi d’hommes. In collaboration with the company ICEBERG represented by Vincent Rieuf. It is a solution to help the rehabilitation of tetraplegia. But we can also imagine an application in sports rehabilitation, especially for muscles.
The project focuses on the rehabilitation of the upper muscles of the human body, and not on walking as most programmes that have the same objective.
The research project combines VR and electromyography
When you try to open and close your hand, there is an intention that starts in the brain and turns into a nerve impulse that travels the nerve “routes” and activates and deactivates a muscle. When you are in tetra or paraplegia, there is a lesion in this passage that slows down and reduces the signal. This signal reaches the muscle in some people and it is not intense enough to activate, open and close the hand.
Thanks to VR and electromyography, it is possible to represent functioning limbs in VR and this helps to rebuild damaged nerve pathways, it improves, catalyses and accelerates the rehabilitation of people in these conditions.
More simply: sensors are installed on the forearm of the patient in rehabilitation, which detect nerve damage. They then trigger the projection of a hand in the virtual reality headset: its movement deceives the brain, and allows the stimulus to be connected with the final gesture. The connection, which was not made before, is now possible.
The solution has been used in Paul Monnier’s rehabilitation centre for more than a year, and the medical team has noticed “very positive changes”.
What applications for sports?
An athlete can be severely affected in the muscles but also in the nerves after a major injury. Rehabilitation usually takes time, and it is one, even two, whole sports seasons that are sometimes thrown away. A hard blow to morale for a top sportsman who trains all year round to take part in international competitions.
ICEBERG’s research work can open up new avenues in the field of sport, and help in the rehabilitation of upper limbs (following an injury to the hand, arm, etc.). Muscles and nerves can be affected by an injury, which is often temporary. But the solution can help to start a rehabilitation process more quickly after the physical recovery.