Virtual Reality techniques for stroke therapy show promise | Technology
|Virtual Reality techniques for stroke therapy show promise|
Virtual Reality therapies for stroke rehabilitation show promise
The use of virtual reality (VR) therapies for the rehabilitation of patients who have suffered a stroke has shown promise in some cases, according to study findings published in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases.
The researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to assess the effectiveness of various types of virtual reality therapies, either immersive virtual reality (IVR) or non-immersive virtual reality (NIVR), compared with conventional therapy (CT) to improve the condition of patients who have suffered a stroke.
Virtual Reality can be classified as immersive or non-immersive. IVR replaces a user's real world environment with a simulated imaginary environment. In NIVR, the user primarily interacts with virtual objects displayed in a two-dimensional or three-dimensional environment that can be directly manipulated on a conventional graphics workstation with the use of a keyboard and mouse.
Eligibility criteria for articles included in the meta-analysis were as follows: (1) one RCT; (2) participants older than 18 years affected by a neurological disorder; (3) comparison of computer-mediated treatments versus CT; (4) evaluation of motor functions of the upper or lower extremities; (5) or assessed postural control. The comprehensive systematic search was initiated in May 2020. All selected articles were classified as low risk, moderate risk, or high risk of bias, based on the number of articles that received a negative assessment by the 2 reviewers.
A total of 22 RCTs were included in the current review. According to the Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP) guidelines for an RCT, 2 of the studies were judged to be at high risk of bias, 17 at moderate risk of bias, and 3 at low risk of bias.
Of all the RCTs, 7 trials had a sample size of more than 50 participants and 6 trials had less than 25 participants. The mean age of patients in most of the studies included in the analysis was 29 to 75 years, and most participants were relatively young.
Overall, 3 RCTs showed that IVR improved upper extremity activity, function, and activities of daily living (ADLs) in a manner comparable to CT. A total of 18 RCTs demonstrated that NIVR had similar benefits to CT with respect to upper extremity activity and function, balance and mobility, participation, and ADLs. A comparison between different forms of VR showed that IVR may be more beneficial than NIVR for upper extremity training and ADLs. However, no evidence was available regarding the durability of IVR therapy.
Study limitations included the fact that high heterogeneity in the data made it difficult to perform a meta-analysis of the results for some of the outcomes of interest. In addition, there was great diversity between the VR training scenarios, which made it difficult to compare results between studies.
"We recommend larger studies in the future, with power calculations targeting more than 25 participants per group," the researchers said, to explore the long-term efficacy and promising benefits of IVR technology.