Virtual reality as a leisure activity for young adults with physical and intellectual disabilities

Shira Yalon-Chamovitz, Patrice L.(Tamar) Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Participation in leisure activities is a fundamental human right and an important factor of quality of life. Adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) and physical disabilities often experience limited opportunities to participate in leisure activities, virtual reality (VR) technologies may serve to broaden their repertoire of accessible leisure activities. Although the use of VR in rehabilitation has grown over the past decade, few applications have been reported for people with ID. Thirty-three men and women with moderate ID and severe cerebral palsy participated in the study. Each participant in the experimental group (n = 17) took part in VR activity two to three times weekly for 12 weeks. Virtual games were provided via GestureTek's Gesture Xtreme video capture VR system. The VR-based activities were perceived by the participants to be enjoyable and successful. Moreover, participants demonstrated clear preferences, initiation and learning. They performed consistently and maintained a high level of interest throughout the intervention period. VR appears to provide varied and motivating opportunities for leisure activities among young adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. Its ease of use and adaptability make it a feasible option for this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-287
Number of pages15
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the staff and residents of the Beit Noam Center for participation in the study. We also thank Pnina Bialik, Adit Hennell, Liora Levin for their assistance in designing and running the intervention program and Meir Shahar for adapting the virtual reality games. The research was carried out through the generous support of the Shalem Foundation.


  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Leisure
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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