Patient Engagement in Virtual Reality as an Adjunct to Upper Limb Burns Rehabilitation

Ms Kate McNamara1, Dr Antonio Padilha Lanari Bo1, Ms Andrea Mc Kittrick2, Ms Sue  Laracy2, Ms Mathilde Desselle3, Ms Giovanna Tornatore4

1The University Of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia, 2Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Herston, Australia, 3Herston Biofabrication Institute, Herston, Australia, 4Surgical Treatment and Rehabilitation Service (STARS), Herston, Australia


Purpose: Investigating technology-enabled upper limb burn rehabilitation as measured by patient satisfaction and engagement in virtual reality.

Methods: A pilot research study including inpatients and outpatients attending the RBWH Occupational Therapy Burns Upper Limb Rehabilitation Group was conducted. This study explored the difference in patient satisfaction, engagement, and participation during occupational therapy through commercially available immersive virtual reality games with the Oculus Quest and non-immersive games with the Nintendo Wii. The study recruited 5 patients to complete one session of each intervention and a 10 question 5-point Likert scale questionnaire. A methodology is also presented for the classification and evaluation of upper limb movements in a game-based rehabilitation intervention using the OpenPose software.

Results: Patients recorded that the Oculus Quest was “a lot of fun” and “good to do something different with technology to help the rehabilitation process”. The majority of patients found both systems very helpful in their rehabilitation (80% for the Oculus Quest, 67% for the Nintendo Wii). The questionnaire results of enjoyment (mean 5.00, SD 0.00), control (mean 4.40, SD 0.55), clarity (mean 4.80, SD 0.45), fatigue (mean 4.80, SD 0.45), and stiffness (mean 4.80, SD 0.45) support increased patient satisfaction and engagement in rehabilitation with the use the immersive virtual reality game Beat Saber on Oculus Quest.

Conclusions: Immersive virtual reality should be employed as an adjunct therapy tool in the Burns Occupational Therapy Upper Limb Rehabilitation Group. Further studies are warranted to explore the customisation of immersive virtual reality for patients with upper limb deficits.


Kate McNamara graduated from a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in the field of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering in July 2021. This project was completed for her Honours project in collaboration with the Occupational Therapy Team at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

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