VR Based Exercise Regimen Reduces Pain and Improves Quality of Life in women with Fibromyalgia

A new study has aimed to find out whether a VR-based exercise regimen can provide benefit in women with fibromyalgia. Of 83 patients enrolled, women in the exercise group had significantly improved quality of life when compared to those in the control group. Pain, stiffness and anxiety were all reduced in the exercise group, and these patients expressed an improved mood as well. “This exergame-based training program is an effective intervention for reducing pain and increasing health-related quality of life in women with fibromyalgia,” the authors conclude.

Collado-Mateo D, Dominguez-Muñoz FJ, Adsuar JC, et al. Effects of exergames on quality of life, pain and disease impact in women with Fibromyalgia: A randomized controlled trial. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2017.

Immersive VR for Gait Training Safe and Effective in Parkinson’s Disease Patients

From VR Medicine News-A new study sought to determine the safety of head-mounted displays (HMDs) for long-duration VR walking for rehabilitation in 33 patients (11 healthy young, 11 healthy older adults, and 11 with Parkinson’s disease (PD)). No significant differences in discomfort or simulator sickness were observed across the groups. All groups had reduced stress, and PD patients had increased arousal after exposure. “This provides systematic evidence supporting the safety of immersive VR for gait training in these populations,” the authors conclude.

Kim A, Darakjian N, Finley JM. Walking in fully immersive virtual environments: an evaluation of potential adverse effects in older adults and individuals with Parkinson’s disease. J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2017;14:1-12.

VR Augmented EMG Biofeedback Improves Neuromuscular Control in Children With Cerebral Palsy

A new study sought to compare the benefits of a VR augmented electromyography (EMG) biofeedback to an EMG biofeedback alone in the context of muscle activity imbalance in 18 children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP) and 8 normal children. Elbow extension range of motion (ROM), bicep strength, and box and block test were significantly improved with the addition of VR augmentation to EMG biofeedback. “The present study is a first clinical trial that demonstrated the superior benefits of the EMG biofeedback when augmented by virtual reality exercise games in children with spastic CP,” the authors conclude.

Yoo JW, Lee DR, Cha YJ, You SH. Augmented effects of EMG biofeedback interfaced with virtual reality on neuromuscular control and movement coordination during reaching in children with cerebral palsy. NeuroRehabilitation. 2017:1-11.

VR-Based Platform Helps Stroke Patients

From VR Medicine News–A new study has sought to reduce the cost-prohibitive nature of balance training for many stroke patients, who typically must see a physiotherapist in a clinical setting for rehabilitation. With this goal in mind, the authors created a VR-based Balance Training (VBaT) system, which combines the Nintendo Wii Balance Board with a VR interface. In a pilot study with 7 stroke survivors, improvement in overall average task performance was observed. “The VBaT system is proposed to be a step towards an effective balance training platform for people with balance disorder,” the authors conclude.

Verma S, Kumar D, Kumawat A, Dutta A, Lahiri U. A Low-cost Adaptive Balance Training Platform for Stroke Patients: A Usability Study. IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2017.

VR Gaming Effective for Rehabilitation in Chronic Stroke

From VR Medicine News–A new study has sought to determine the potential benefit of the “YouGrabber” upper limb rehabilitation system in chronic stroke sufferers. No significant differences were found between the YouGrabber and gym rehabilitation groups. According to the participants, the YouGrabber was motivational, but technical challenges of the device were frustrating. “The YouGrabber appeared practical and may improve upper limb activities in people several months after stroke. Future work could examine cognition, cost effectiveness, and different training intensities,” the authors conclude.

Stockley RC, O’Connor DA, Smith P, Moss S, Allsop L, Edge W. A Mixed Methods Small Pilot Study to Describe the Effects of Upper Limb Training Using a Virtual Reality Gaming System in People with Chronic Stroke. Rehabil Res Pract. 2017;2017:9569178.

VR Effective in Brain Injury Rehab in Children

From VR Medicine News–Researchers in Italy have evaluated the efficacy of a Gait Real-time Analysis Interactive Lab (GRAIL) system using VR and found that it improved walking ability in a group of children with acquired brain injury (ABI). A total of 12 children with ABI underwent 10 sessions of treatment with the GRAIL system. Before and after evaluation showed significant improvements in several measures, including standing and walking. The findings support the “leading role that VR might have in the rehabilitation field,” the authors conclude.

Biffi E, Beretta E, Cesareo A, et al. An Immersive Virtual Reality Platform to Enhance Walking Ability of Children with Acquired Brain Injuries. Methods Inf Med. 2017 Jan 24. doi: 10.3414/ME16-02-0020.

VR Shows Promise in Cerebral Palsy

From VR Medicine News–Researchers in India conducted a review of studies of VR rehabilitation and its efficacy in the sensory and functional motor skills of children and adolescents with cerebral palsy. The review, published in Physiotherapy, included 31 studies and 369 participants. The authors found “moderate evidence that virtual reality rehabilitation is a promising intervention to improve balance and motor skills in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy.

Ravi DK, Kumar N, Singhi P. Effectiveness of virtual reality rehabilitation for children and adolescents with cerebral palsy: an updated evidence-based systematic review. Physiotherapy. 2016 Sep 27. pii: S0031-9406(16)30064-5. doi: 10.1016/j.physio.2016.08.004.

VR Shows Efficacy in Parkinson’s Disease Rehab

By VR Medicine News–Researchers in Belgium, the UK, and Israel have evaluated the effectiveness of VR interventions for the rehabilitation of people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), specifically with respect to gait and balance. A total of 8 trials involving 263 people with PD were included in the analysis. Interventions lasted from 4 to 8 weeks. Compared with physiotherapy, VR interventions appeared to moderately improve step and stride length whereas a similar effect between the two approaches was found on gate, balance and quality of life. No adverse events or effect on exercise adherence were reported with the use of VR. “Additional high-quality, large-scale studies are needed to confirm these findings,” the authors note.

Dockx K, Bekkers EM, Van den Bergh V, et al. Virtual reality for rehabilitation in Parkinson’s disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Dec 21;12:CD010760. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010760.pub2.

VR May Assist With Lower Limb Rehab in Cerebral Palsy

By VR Medicine News–Researchers from the MOVE Research Institute in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and colleagues investigated whether VR training can help with lower limb balance rehabilitation in children aged 5-18 with cerebral palsy who have undergone orthopedic surgery. While the study included only 11 patients, the findings suggested that VR is feasible in this setting, although possibly not perceived as any more enjoyable than conventional physiotherapy.

Meyns P, Pans L, Plasmans K, Heyrman L, Desloovere K, Molenaers G. The Effect of Additional Virtual Reality Training on Balance in Children with Cerebral Palsy after Lower Limb Surgery: A Feasibility Study. Games Health J. 2017 Jan 4. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2016.0069.