September 8, 2011

Virtual Stroke Recovery?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Stroke patients may be able to regain arm function and improve their abilities to perform tasks with virtual reality human-computer interfaces.

Researchers analyzed 19 trials that included a total of 565 adult stroke patients. Seven trials involving a total of 205 participants revealed virtual reality training could improve arm function compared to traditional therapy. Three other trials involving 101 patients suggested that virtual reality can lead to a slightly better ability to perform everyday tasks such as showering and getting dressed.

"These positive effects were found soon after the end of the treatment, and it is not clear whether the effects are long lasting," the review's leader Kate Laver, who works in the Department of Rehabilitation and Aged Care at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, was quoted as saying. There was also not enough evidence to determine the effects of virtual reality or video gaming on grip strength or walking speed.

The researchers found few participants reported serious side effects such as pain, headaches or dizziness.

"Virtual reality and interactive video gaming may have some advantages over traditional therapy as they may give people an opportunity to practice everyday activities that cannot be practiced within the hospital environment," Laver said. She also said further research is needed to assess which aspects of virtual reality are the most important and how long the effects last.

SOURCE: The Cochrane Library, September, 2011