According to Dr. Lusine Poghosyan, who works at the “Support for Wounded Soldiers and Disabled Military” NGO, the use of VR in neurohabilitation therapy is on the rise and is used in tandem with more traditional therapy for a variety of reasons. VR can be used to increase motivation and improve the emotional and psychological component of going through rehabilitation training. A patient can be transformed from their hospital or rehabilitation center to a whole new world through VR, and partaking in such an engaging form of therapy no doubt makes a positive change in their recovery experience.
The physical component of the device simulates walking, by keeping the patient in an upright position, stabilizing their torso, with supports attaching to a patient’s legs and arms. The movement on the device is similar to that of an elliptical machine at a gym.
Arsenyan emphasized that “even the experience of being able to stand and see the surroundings from that height makes such a big difference,” as compared to the typical sedentary, wheelchair-bound perspective many patients with limited mobility have. The device is also used by children with cerebral palsy and brain or spinal cord injuries who have had difficulty walking.
Thus, through the synergy of walking and virtual reality, MetaGait claims to promote the regeneration of nerve centers in the central nervous system that were damaged by the patient’s traumatic incident, “helping the formation of new centers and nerve connections,” per their website.
As of right now, the options for someone using MetaGait range from virtual reality skiing where users can compete with other virtual skiers to partaking in VR tourism to sites such as Tatev Monastery, St. Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, and Lake Sevan. There are plans to expand the selection of games and locations and create more interactive games to promote cyber tourism of Armenia and Artsakh.
Incredibly, almost all of MetaGait is produced in Armenia, and the games are also built by software engineers in the country. The only exception is the VR headset, an Oculus Quest 2, which is imported. The device also has a patent and there are aspirations to eventually sell MetaGait on the international market, which will require further clearance for regulations, standards and other necessary documentation.