From a clinical point of view, sculpturing activities (pottery, objects assembly, material removal) have advantages for several reasons:
- As a motor rehabilitation tool, sculpture (mainly pottery) allows specific mobilisation of the joints, which is easily transferable to more domestic tasks, such as cooking. Making sculptures is a good way to improve dexterity and the grasping function, as well as improving postural balance and developing the movement of the joints.
- As a cognitive rehabilitation tool, creating a sculpture by assembling a series of objects is an effective way to work and requires the skills of reading the assembly plan, sorting objects into the correct order, determining the order of their assembly, scheduling tasks, and issuing instructions.
- Easier to implement: it does not require a dedicated space, and there are no hygiene concerns raised, because none of the dust or mess associated with actual sculpture is created.
- Possibility of offering activities to the adult patients which are more in keeping with their age: currently toys such as Meccano or other model construction kits are used for this purpose and these activities are often considered as childish and boring by patients.
- Possibility of offering a wider range of activities, which are much more engaging for the patient. It is well established that patient motivation is a factor in successful rehabilitation. In free-hand applications, actions which develop the movement of the arm joints, postural balance, and coordination of movement are possible.
- The cognitive processes when sculpting in a virtual reality environment are the same as when sculpting in reality. Furthermore, the virtual reality environment allows the selection of different levels of difficulty, while maintaining the possibility of having standardized protocols. Virtual reality is well suited for the executive functions of rehabilitation and even, for example, the rehabilitation of individuals suffering from hemineglect , where the patient is unaware of one side of the space around them.
- For motor rehabilitation, virtual reality allows the filtering of inaccurate movement, or the ability to suppress or reduce the effects of the physical laws such as gravity or the action-reaction principle. This will help the victims of a stroke to recover their bimanual ability, permitting them to perform tasks requiring both hands. This would help to prevent the patient being placed in situation which could either put them at risk or give them the impression of failure.