Virtual Reality Training May be as Effective as Regular Training After Stroke


A new study reported that virtual reality therapy improved arm and hand movement as effective as regular therapy after a stroke. The study findings published in the issue of Neurology®.

The study author, Iris Brunner said that people could use virtual reality therapy as an alternative for to their standard therapy after a stroke. “Future studies could also look at whether people could use virtual reality therapy remotely from their homes, which could lessen the burden and cost of traveling to a medical center for standard therapy,” he added.

In the randomized, controlled, single-blind phase III multicentre trial, the research team enrolled individuals (n=120, average age=62 years) who had suffered from a stroke on average about 30 days before the study started. The scientists observed that all of the patients had mild to severe muscle weakness or impairment in their wrists, hands or upper arms.

Around, 50% of the patients underwent standard physical and occupational treatment. The remaining patients underwent virtual reality therapy (designed for rehabilitation and could be adapted to the person's abilities). The participants used a screen and gloves with sensors to play several games that incorporated arm, hand and finger movements.

The outcomes revealed that both physical and occupational treatment and virtual reality therapy improved the arm, hand, and finger movements of the patients significantly. However, the difference between the two cohorts in the results was not found. The findings suggest that either type of training could be used, depending on what the patient prefers.

The virtual reality training was not an immersive experience. The team speculated that using virtual reality goggles or other techniques to create a more immersive experience would increase the effect of the training.

According to a study, virtual reality therapy improves arm and hand movement after a stroke is equally effective as regular therapy.