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Physiotherapist beliefs and perspectives on virtual reality supported rehabilitation for the management of musculoskeletal shoulder pain: A focus group study

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-04-19, 14:35 authored by Niamh Brady, Beate Dejaco, Jeremy Lewis, Karen Mc CreeshKaren Mc Creesh, Joseph G. McVeigh


Virtual Reality (VR) is an immersive computer-generated environment that provides a multi-sensory experience for the user. Modern technology allows the user to explore and interact with the virtual environment, offering opportunities for rehabilitation. The use of immersive VR in the management of musculoskeletal shoulder pain is relatively new and research is equired to demonstrate its feasibility and effectiveness in this field.


The aims of this study were, firstly, to explore physiotherapists’ beliefs and perspectives of immersive VR as a platform for rehabilitation in patients with musculoskeletal shoulder pain, secondly, to identify potential barriers and facilitators to using VR in a musculoskeletal setting and thirdly, to gain insight from clinicians that would inform the development of a VR intervention for the rehabilitation of musculoskeletal shoulder pain.


This study used qualitative descriptive design methodology. A series of three focus group interviews were carried out, via Microsoft Teams. Physiotherapists received an Oculus Quest™ headset to use at home prior to the focus group interviews. A six-phase process of reflexive thematic analysis was carried out to identify themes within the data. Atlas Ti Qualitative Data Analysis software was used to facilitate thematic analysis.


Five themes were identified within the data. They reflected physiotherapists beliefs that VR provides novel opportunities for shoulder rehabilitation and may offer new avenues for managing movement-related fear and improving concordance with rehabilitation. However, barriers related to safety and practical considerations associated with using VR were also identified in the final themes.


These findings provide valuable insight into clinician acceptability of immersive VR as a plat-form for rehabilitation and the need for further research to answer the questions posed by physiotherapists in the current study. This research will contribute to human-centered design of VR-supported interventions for managing musculoskeletal shoulder pain.



PLOS ONE 18 (4): e0284445


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