Using Virtual Reality to Identify Early Signs of Parkinson Disease: Jay Alberts, PhD


The Edward F. and Barbara A. Bell Family Endowed Chair at the Cleveland Clinic provided an overview of the Cleveland Clinic Virtual Reality Shopping platform, a virtual reality tool for Parkinson disease. [WATCH TIME: 5 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 5 minutes

"In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering issued challenges, one of which was to integrate virtual reality into medicine. We have not really delivered on that grand challenge yet. It’s used for teaching here and there, and for some things fundamentally, but we haven’t leveraged it well. The reason is people get sick. There’s this nauseous feeling because there’s a disconnect in visual information and somatosensory information."

In recent years, the use of virtual reality (VR) has become less of a phenomenon in the medical community, though it remains an underutilized approach. The Cleveland Clinic Virtual Reality Shopping platform (CC-VRS) combines state-of-the-art VR content with an omnidirectional treadmill to quantify instrumental activities of daily living proposed prodromal markers of neurological disease. Led by Jay Alberts, PhD, a new study published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments highlighted the feasibility and functional CC-VRS platform in patients with Parkinson disease (PD), a neurodegenerative condition that hinders patients’ ability to perform everyday tasks.

One of the major issues in the expansion of VR is the VR-related sickness that results from sensory inconsistencies between the visual and vestibular systems, otherwise known as locomotion problems. The CC-VRS platform attempts to solve the locomotion problem by coupling an omnidirectional treadmill with high-resolution VR content, enabling the user to physically navigate a virtual grocery stroke to simulate shopping.

Alberts, the Edward F. and Barbara A. Bell Family Endowed Chair at the Cleveland Clinic, sat down with NeurologyLive® to detail the CC-VRS and its constructs. He discussed the underutilization of VR, the benefits it can bring to patients with PD, and why it can uncover more about the early prodromal stages before symptoms arise.

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