Towards understanding and improving motivation for rehabilitation in virtual environments for mobility impaired persons
The primary goal of this research is to investigate the relationship between presence (i.e., the suspension of disbelief; the feeling of 'being there') in a virtual environment (VE) and motivation for rehabilitation and exercise. Numerous researchers have shown that using Virtual Reality (VR) technology can increase the motivation and effectiveness of doing exercises and rehabilitation. However, no one has investigated the reasons that increased the motivation of using VR technology. I chose to investigate this from two directions: 1) the sense of presence experienced by rehabilitation patients - mobility impaired (MI) individuals and 2) how to motivate healthy users for exercise. For the first direction, I studied the subjective, physiological, and behavioral impact of various VEs and determined differences between MI users and healthy users' presence. For the second direction, I investigated how to improve exercise motivation for both healthy and MI users through novel exercise-based interaction approaches for common video games. My plan is to fill the gap in knowledge between these two bodies of research. Specifically, the ultimate goal is investigating if and how increasing presence may impact motivation for rehabilitation and exercise for MI persons. I expect that this research will contribute new knowledge on the presence research of MI persons in VEs, and how MI users interact with computer interfaces, which can be used to derive guidelines for the design of effective VEs for rehabilitation and exercise.