Virtualware and Kessler Foundation Renew Collaboration in Groundbreaking Spatial Neglect Research

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12/12/2023

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Peii (Peggy) Chen, PhD, senior research scientist, Center for Stroke Rehabilitation Research at Kessler Foundation, continues leading the development of KF-SRT®.

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Credit: Kessler Foundation

East Hanover, NJ – December 07, 2023 – Kessler Foundation, a leader in rehabilitation research, and Virtualware, an international leader in immersive and interactive technologies, expand their collaboration with a new agreement to further research and development aimed at advancing spatial neglect rehabilitation using virtual reality (VR) and tele-rehabilitation technology.This latest development stems from a strong, ongoing partnership initiated in 2018 between the VR innovator and the New Jersey-based disability-focused non-profit.

The intervention, known as Kessler Foundation Spatial Retraining Therapy (KF-SRT®), continues to be developed under the direction of the Foundation’s senior research scientist Peii Chen, PhD,Center for Stroke Rehabilitation Research. KF-SRT aims to enhance control of spatial attention and body-environment awareness through an immersive training process, which is a safe, interactive, and game-like VR environment. The flexibility of the portable VR equipment allows KF-SRT to be implemented in various clinical and home settings.

“Since 2018, this partnership has been marked by continuous innovation and has revealed a significant advance in the development of immersive VR technology for the treatment of spatial neglect, a hidden disability among individuals who have sustained stroke and other types of brain injury,” said Dr. Chen. Spatial neglect disrupts basic self-care and daily activities, hindering rehabilitation outcomes and functional recovery.

“KF-SRT is grounded in established theories of neurorehabilitation for spatial neglect. By making the treatment game-like, we improve patient engagement and motivation to complete the treatment regimen while receiving rehabilitative benefits,” noted Dr. Chen. The Annals of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation published “Immersive virtual reality treatment for spatial neglect: An agile user-centered development process” (DOI: 10.1016/j.rehab.2021.101592), authored by Dr. Chen and Denise Krch, PhD, senior research scientist in the Center for Traumatic Brain Injury Research in which they reported that therapists expressed unanimous satisfaction with the KF-SRT user interface, and patients have reported a preference for the VR experience over conventional therapy.

“As VR hardware and software become more affordable and accessible, innovative therapy paradigms like KF-SRT will continue leading the way in rehabilitation, facilitating treatment delivery, improving outcomes, and reducing the burdens on individuals, families, and society,” added Dr. Chen.

Julio Alvarez, global healthcare strategy director at Virtualware remarked, “For many years, we have been working at the intersection of digital technology and health, developing innovative solutions derived from the latest scientific research and the collective experience of our team. The current project continues to pose an attractive technological challenge for Virtualware, and we are excited to deliver a series of digital interventions that may aid individuals with neuropsychological impairment on their road to recovery.”

In final comments, Unai Extremo, CEO of Virtualware said, “In this landmark collaboration with the Kessler Foundation, we at Virtualware are excited to push the boundaries of VR in rehabilitation. Our commitment through this important deal is to innovate and expand our VR technologies for the betterment of individuals with stroke and spatial neglect.”

About Virtualware

Virtualware is a global pioneer in developing Virtual Reality solutions for major industrial, educational, and healthcare conglomerates. Since its founding in 2004, the company has garnered widespread recognition for its accomplishments.  In 2021, Virtualware was acknowledged as the world’s most Innovative VR Company. It is based in Bilbao, Spain, and has offices in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The company went public on Euronext Access Paris in April 2023. For more information, visit Virtualware.

About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research. Our scientists seek to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes, including employment, for adults and children with neurological and developmental disabilities of the brain and spinal cord including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and autism. Kessler Foundation also leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.

Press Contacts at Kessler Foundation:
Deborah Hauss, DHauss@kesslerfoundation.org;
Carolann Murphy, CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org.

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