The Growing Use of Virtual Reality in Cognitive Rehabilitation: Fact, Fake or Vision? A Scoping Review

J Natl Med Assoc. 2019 Aug;111(4):457-463. doi: 10.1016/j.jnma.2019.01.003. Epub 2019 Feb 8.


Objective: This review aims to evaluate the role of Virtual Reality (VR) in cognitive rehabilitation of different neurological diseases, and the accessibility to healthcare systems providing this type of treatment.

Method of research: Studies performed between 2003 and 2017 and fulfilling the selected criteria were found on PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane and Web of Sciences databases. The search combined the terms VR rehabilitation with different neurological disease.

Results: Our findings showed that neurological patients performed significant improvement in many cognitive domains (executive and visual-spatial abilities; speech, attention and memory skills) following the use of VR training.

Conclusions: This review supports the idea that rehabilitation through new VR tools could positively affect neurological patients' outcomes, by boosting motivation and participation so to get a better response to treatment. In particular, VR can be used to enhance the effects of conventional therapies, promoting longer training sessions and a reduction in overall hospitalization time.

Keywords: Cognition; Healthcare allocation; Neurological diseases; Neurorehabilitation; Virtual reality training.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / ethnology
  • Cognition Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Dementia / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / rehabilitation
  • Parkinson Disease / rehabilitation
  • Stroke Rehabilitation / methods
  • Virtual Reality
  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy* / methods