Using Virtual Reality for Movement System Examination in a Doctor of Physical Therapy Curriculum

Dana L. Judd, Brian Kelly, Janet Corral

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Examining and treating movement dysfunction is a cornerstone of physical therapist practice. Consequently, physical therapist education programs should prepare students to effectively analyze movement to inform clinical decision making. Current practice methods fall short due to variability in demonstration and realistic portrayal ofmovement disorders. Virtual reality (VR) is an alternative modality for high-fidelity simulation for learning movement system examination. The purpose of this study was to describe the development of a VR module to be used as part of a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) curriculum, and to evaluate student reaction and attitudes regarding utilizing VR for practicing movement analysis skills. Method/Model Description and Evaluation: An original VR module consisting of 3 virtual patients performing a sit-to-stand transfer was created for students to practice movement observation and analysis. Fifteen first-year DPT students volunteered to experience the VR module and provide feedback. Students observed 3 different patients performing sit-to-stand transfers and performed a movement analysis on each. Students' performance was assessed using a checklist developed from current physical therapy literature and curricular content. Participants also completed pre- and post- VR surveys to capture their opinions and attitudes regarding VR. Outcomes: After the VR module, all participations strongly agreed that they enjoyed using the VR module. All participants agreed that the animations were realistic enough to practice movement analysis skills. The average checklist score was 87.7%, indicating most benchmark behaviors for movement analysis were met. Most students disagreed that VR could replace face-to-face training opportunities. Discussions and Conclusion: The VR module was received favorably by DPT students; however, they felt strongly that VR should not replace traditional face-toface laboratory opportunities. Notably, the VR environment provided a reliable space to practice movement examination skills. Utilizing this innovation would advance current concepts in simulation-based learning in DPT curricula and provide a unique platform for practicing movement examination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-329
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Therapy Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Deliberate practice
  • Movement system
  • Simulation
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Policy


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