Will virtual rehabilitation replace clinicians: a contemporary debate about technological versus human obsolescence

Tal Krasovsky, Anat V. Lubetzky, Philippe S. Archambault, W. Geoffrey Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is inspired by a pseudo Oxford-style debate, which was held in Tel Aviv University, Israel at the International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation (ICVR) 2019, which is the official conference of the International Society for Virtual Rehabilitation. The debate, between two 2-person teams with a moderator, was organized by the ICVR Program committee to address the question “Will virtual rehabilitation replace clinicians?” It brought together five academics with technical, research, and/or clinical backgrounds—Gerry Fluet, Tal Krasovsky, Anat Lubetzky, Philippe Archambault, W. Geoffrey Wright—to debate the pros and cons of using virtual reality (VR) and related technologies to help assess, diagnose, treat, and track recovery, and more specifically investigate the likelihood that advanced technology will ultimately replace human clinicians. Both teams were assigned a side to defend, whether it represented their own viewpoint or not, and to take whatever positions necessary to make a persuasive argument and win the debate. In this paper we present a recapitulation of the arguments presented by both sides, and further include an in-depth consideration of the question. We attempt to judiciously lay out a number of arguments that fall along a spectrum from moderate to extreme; the most extreme and/or indefensible positions are presented for rhetorical and demonstrative purposes. Although there may not be a clear answer today, this paper raises questions which are related to the basic nature of the rehabilitation profession, and to the current and potential role of technology within it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number163
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Automation
  • Clinical roles
  • Futurism
  • Technology
  • Telehealth
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics


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