Virtual reality and cognitive rehabilitation: A review of current outcome research

Eric B. Larson*, Maia Feigon, Pablo Gagliardo, Assaf Y. Dvorkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Background: Recent advancement in the technology of virtual reality (VR) has allowed improved applications for cognitive rehabilitation. Objectives: The aim of this review is to facilitate comparisons of therapeutic efficacy of different VR interventions. Methods: A systematic approach for the review of VR cognitive rehabilitation outcome research addressed the nature of each sample, treatment apparatus, experimental treatment protocol, control treatment protocol, statistical analysis and results. Using this approach, studies that provide valid evidence of efficacy of VR applications are summarized. Applications that have not yet undergone controlled outcome study but which have promise are introduced. Results: Seventeen studies conducted over the past eight years are reviewed. The few randomized controlled trials that have been completed show that some applications are effective in treating cognitive deficits in people with neurological diagnoses although further study is needed. Conclusion: Innovations requiring further study include the use of enriched virtual environments that provide haptic sensory input in addition to visual and auditory inputs and the use of commercially available gaming systems to provide tele-rehabilitation services. Recommendations are offered to improve efficacy of rehabilitation, to improve scientific rigor of rehabilitation research and to broaden access to the evidence-based treatments that this research has identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-772
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • Brain injury
  • outcome
  • rehabilitation
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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