Posted by Ian FAIRNIE
Associate Professor Marina Ciccarelli (pronounced Chik-a-relli) enthralled her audience describing how Virtual Reality (VR) technology enables people who have suffered major injuries to the brain and/or spinal cord to speed their rehabilitation.
She focussed her story around “Gary” and how VR plus his wife and best friend Greg Hewitt, have helped Gary regain some of his ability to control movements in his arms and hands.  Gary had lost this ability when his cervical vertebrae suffered a catastrophic workplace injury to his neck. 
Somewhere between 11-19 thousand people in Australia have a severe mobility limiting injury, mostly from road accidents (not sports injuries) and the cost of supporting these people costs an average of $4.9 million PER PERSON.
VR has increased the success of physical and occupation therapy in restoring some functionality, which also relies of the ability of the nervous system to regenerate, a function dubbed ‘neuroplasticity’.
Marina is presenting at TEDxPerth in the Perth Concert Hall this weekend and she’ll be able to tell those present that following her presentation, Applecross Rotary has agreed to support her work by funding two more VR headsets. 
If you’d like to contact Marina, email her at

Click on picture and watch how virtual reality is helping Perth man Gary Barnes move again after a workplace accident left him a quadriplegic.