Feb. 2020
Interview with the Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of Navarra

Interview with the Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of Navarra


There are many Multiple Sclerosis associations and centres around the world using VirtualRehab as a way of providing virtual rehabilitation to help improve therapy for their patients. The Multiple Sclerosis Association of Navarra (ADEMNA) is one such example. ADEMNA was one of the first MS centres that decided to implement VirtualRehab several years ago as part of their provision of rehabilitation and continues to use it to this day. We had the opportunity to speak to ADEMNA’s director, Josean Villanueva Oyarzabal, about their use of VirtualRehab:

How did you find out about VirtualRehab and what was the reason for incorporating it into your association as part of the rehabilitation process?

The reason to decide to use Virtualrehab in EM Navarra was because we learned about the experience they had in ADEMBI (the MS Association of Vizcaya, Spain), when we visited the centre and they showed us how they applied VirtualRehab with their patients. In addition, we needed to find some tool for people to autonomously expand their rehabilitation sessions, although this has not been 100% implemented up to now because the VirtualRehab sessions are always accompanied by a physiotherapist at the moment.

What is the opinion of your patients?

The patients say that VirtualRehab is motivating and engaging and that they are actually working without realizing it. They also like it when they can see the comparison with the previous sessions and therefor check their progress.

What do the therapists think about using a tool like VirtualRehab as part of the therapies applied?

Physiotherapists that it is a form of training that helps to enhance postural and motor control. It allows this adjustment to be done automatically (without having to pay attention to it) and in a playful way. VirtualRehab also makes it easy for us to track and assess the evolution of the patients in the sessions.

Do you currently use other rehabilitation technologies?

Yes, we use the Leap Motion for upper limb training. In addition, we are testing immersive virtual reality with “low cost” VR glasses with the aim of performing visual explorations that stimulate the vestibular system. We also use the wii fit and the X-Box games with the Kinect for neurorehabilitation.

How does VirtualRehab combine with traditional therapy in your centre?

We transfer traditional therapies to train balance and coordination to VirtualRehab, which allows us to work on motivation and have greater feedback on the progress of each patient. We include working with VirtualRehab during individual physiotherapy sessions of mostly people who are able to perform the games while standing and who have some problems with balance, gait and coordination.

Are there any exergame that your patients particularly like?

The games that are most enjoyed by patients are “Bullseyes and Barriers” and “Touch and dodge.” These are more active and combine more movements.

What is your opinion about the use of games as part of the therapy process?

We believe that with VirtualRehab the therapy sessions are more motivating, and innovative for the patient, making their rehabilitation more dynamic. One of the strengths offered by VirtualRehab are the quantitative results at the end of each game. This allows us to evaluate objectively the performance. It makes it easily comparable with the previous sessions and allows the person to be more ambitious and aware of their rehabilitation progress.

Do you think VirtualRehab helps with the patient’s adherence to his rehabilitation?

One of the characteristics of VirtualRehab is precisely that thanks to the playful elements included in the games, it helps improve adherence to the treatment and its motivation for it.

Do you feel that telerehabilitation would be useful for persons with MS?

We currently don’t provide telerehabilitation using VirtualRehab. We need to explore it more, but we believe in its necessity. Rehabilitation at home could help complement the work realized during the clinical sessions thereby augmenting the intensity of the work.