Following injury, our ability to process sensory information can become disrupted, and the brain can translate this into learning, emotions, or memories, associating more and different layers of complexity with a particular movement.
Because VR has the potential to influence sensory processing and motor sensory integration, it can be used to help patients in a safe and controlled environment. Some studies have shown that using VR can help patients to stick to their treatment plan and reduce levels of anxiety and depression. As part of a wider rehabilitation therapy package, VR has the potential to help address the multiple challenges athletes face by reintroducing them progressively to situations where they need to perform to a high level under extra mental and physical pressures, overcoming anxiety, isolation, and the side effects of sometimes prolonged immobilisation and recovery periods. The more recent use of other pieces of equipment such as haptic gloves has expanded the possibilities of the use of VR in sports physiotherapy. Studies have shown that tactile alongside visual stimulation in VR increases the potential for sensorimotor integration (van Polanen et al., 2019).