Honors Theses


Megan Reissman


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Thesis


Traditional upper extremity rehabilitation techniques often utilize tedious and repetitive reaching motions. Fully immersive virtual reality (VR), involving a VR headset, is a technology with the potential to have non-gaming uses and applications, specifically as an upper extremity rehabilitation tool. This study was designed with the long-term goal of evaluating immersive VR as an upper extremity rehabilitation tool. The purpose of this research is to quantify different movement deficits that may arise due to MS or Parkinson’s, and to understand how the motions of patients with MS or Parkinson’s may differ from healthy controls. This thesis documents the first step in that process: the development of a baseline standard for upper extremity reaching motions within this experimental rehabilitation method.

The virtual environment utilized in this study is the game “Beat Sabers”. Custom levels were designed and coded to examine the impact of factors of Vertical Position, Horizontal Position, and Direction of the movement task on the outcome metrics. Additionally, three type of movements were tested: Unilateral, Bilateral, and Contralateral. A healthy control group of 16 young adults was recruited. Using an XSens Awinda motion capture suit, motion data was collected while participants performed roughly 500 movement tasks per person. Initial statistical assessment of the Unilateral movements showed that the factor of Direction was strongly significant for all joint angle and velocity metrics examined. Vertical Position was significant for most of the metrics examined. Finally, average range of motion for each joint was established. These results and motion profiles will serve as a control baseline for upper extremity motions, which will be later used in the evaluation of movement deficits in clinical populations including multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

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This item is protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) and may only be used for noncommercial, educational, and scholarly purposes.


Undergraduate research


Mechanical Engineering