From what scientific evidence is supported
The concept of rehabilitation in virtual reality is relatively recent; the first experiments in literature date back to the first half of the 1990s as an attempt to evolve the more classic biofeedback (therapeutic / rehabilitative technique that uses electronic and computerized instrumentation to indicate to the person, through visual and / or acoustic feedback, the trend of some of its physiological events - for example, the degree of muscle contraction - to improve its control), found not suitable above all in populations with neurological or infantile deficits .
The goal that different groups begin to search is a rehabilitation system that is able, at the same time, to involve the patient, train and measure their performance through specific tasks / functional activities. So that such an instrumentation could, however, allow the first experiments on extended populations, it was necessary to wait 10 years, especially for the high cost of purchase and maintenance [2-10].
Only in the early 2000s, the introduction of the first inertial platforms (occurred around 2003) and, later, the diffusion of purely playful systems (first of all the Nintendo Wii) gave the decisive push to the experimentation of virtual rehabilitation protocols 11].
In recent years, in fact, we have witnessed an enormous technological evolution in the field of interactive games. Examples of this are the commercialization and widespread use of new consoles that no longer require only a digital performance, understood as the use of a joystick and therefore only a few fingers, but a more global performance of the body, reproducing its movements and allowing interaction in a virtual environment, making the game definitely more engaging and captivating. The evolution of these instruments has been welcomed also in the rehabilitation field, where a constant search for the best alternatives is needed in order to be able to propose valid and effective rehabilitation settings.
The most recent studies in the field of neuroscience lead to a progressive evolution of the rehabilitation proposal, not limiting it to a strictly mechanistic vision but taking into consideration the subject as a whole. This vision is well compatible with the virtual environments created for this new type of interactive game; during the game, in fact, the required performances do not only concern a gesture, but a function integrated in a target context (the whole body is involved in reaching a goal).
To date, virtual rehabilitation tools have been used successfully, particularly on populations with pathologies related to the lower limb. These tools, applied to patients with different pathologies, have shown that rehabilitation that includes virtual reality is more effective than standard rehabilitation. In general, these studies showed an improvement in clinical-functional outcomes on pathological populations subjected to treatment with various virtual rehabilitation methods, compared to a standard treatment; improvements due presumably to the greater involvement of the subjects in the activity and / or to the use of motor tasks more functional and close to the activities of daily life .
Less numerous and on more scarce populations are the attempts on populations with pathologies related to the upper limbs, in any case agreeing to find improvements in patients treated with virtual rehabilitation [5; 12-17].
It was in this context that the need arose to identify a tool that would gather in a single device a rehabilitation tool and a device for collecting and analyzing specific post-kinetic parameters through sensors; allowed to help in the drafting of dedicated rehabilitation training and performed in a virtual environment; a tool that can be used both in dedicated offices and in domestic environments; an analysis tool.
Thus was born NiuRion®.