Design and testing of a virtual environment to train stroke patients with unilateral spatial neglect to cross a street safely

Patrice L.Tamar Weiss, Yuval Naveh, Noomi Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Virtual reality (VR) entails the use of advanced technologies, including computers and various multimedia peripherals, to produce a simulated (that is, virtual) environment that users perceive as comparable to real world objects and events. In recent years, virtual reality technologies have begun to be used as an assessment and treatment tool in occupational therapy, in part because of the ability to create environments that provide patients with opportunities to engage in meaningful, purposeful tasks that are related to real-life interests and activities. The objective of this study was to determine the suitability and feasibility of using a PC-based, non-immersive, VR system (that is, a system in which the user has a reduced sense of actual presence in and control over the simulated environment) for training individuals with unilateral spatial neglect to cross streets in a safe and vigilant manner. A virtual environment, consisting of a typical city street, was programmed using Superscape's™ 3D-Webmaster, a 3D web-authoring tool. Twelve subjects, aged 55 to 75 years, participated in the initial feasibility study and, to date, a further eight subjects have participated in the intervention study. Six of the initial subjects and all eight of the intervention subjects had sustained a right hemispheric stroke at least 6 weeks prior to the study. The remaining subjects were healthy age-matched adults who were independently mobile and had no difficulty in crossing streets. The results show that this virtual environment was suitable in both its cognitive and motor demands for the targeted population and indicate that the virtual reality training is likely to prove beneficial to people who have difficulty with crossing streets. The generalizability of these results, and recommendations regarding the use of virtual reality as an occupational therapy intervention, must be substantiated by further studies using a range of VR platforms with people with different cognitive and motor disabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-55
Number of pages17
JournalOccupational Therapy International
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Unilateral spatial neglect
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Occupational Therapy


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