Project ID CM-HD2023_06


Co Supervisor 1A Centre for Human and Applied Physiological Sciences, School of Basic & Medical Biosciences, FoLSMWebsite

Co Supervisor 1B Department of Psychology, IoPPNWebsite

Exercise in Virtual Reality: The Future of Cardio-Respiratory Rehabilitation?

In virtual reality (VR) environments, individuals can be placed in an immersive world where the nature of reality can be inconspicuously manipulated. This state-of-the-art technique has a clear potential for altering exercise workload perception, as altering visual, aural, and/or vestibular stimuli can give the perception of moving faster/slower or uphill/downhill (see image) . This concept has great therapeutic potential for patients with exercise intolerance undergoing rehabilitation (e.g. in COPD or heart failure). If the perception of exercise effort and/or sensations of breathlessness can be reduced with VR exercise, then it may allow patients to exercise at higher workloads and so maximise the long-term functional benefits of rehabilitation programmes.

1. 0-6 months: Complete a systematic review of the literature, examining the use of VR in cardiorespiratory patient rehabilitation
2. 0-12 months: Assess and optimise a VR cycling intervention for manipulating perceived exertion and exercise performance in healthy participants
3. 12-18 months: Examine the feasibility and tolerance of VR exercise in breathless patients referred for rehabilitation
4. 18-24 months: Assess the ability of VR cycling to enhance workload capacity in these patients
5. 24-36 months: Pilot a training study investigating the effectiveness of a VR cycling intervention in improving patient outcomes

In this project you will learn to:

• Design and operate virtual reality environments for exercise tasks
• Perform a series of standard/experimental exercise tests (e.g. CPET)
• Collect cardiorespiratory and psychological data using the latest techniques
• Conduct many clinical tests such as lung function testing
• Conduct statistical analysis on commonly used software (SPSS, Python)

Representative Publications

• Bruce, R. M., Turner, A., and White M. J. (2016) Ventilatory responses to muscle metaboreflex activation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. J Physiol. 15;594(20):6025-6035

• Runswick, O. R., Roca, A., Williams, A. M., McRobert, A., & North, J. S. (2018). The temporal integration of information during anticipation. Psychology of Sport and Exercise.