Virtual Reality Improves Stroke Patients' Motor Skills

Observational studies show improvements in arm motor impairment and motor function

FRIDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Virtual reality (VR) technology can assist in arm motor recovery after stroke, according to a meta-analysis published online April 7 in Stroke.

Gustavo Saposnik, M.D, from the University of Toronto, and colleagues reviewed the literature to evaluate the effect of VR technology on arm motor recovery following stroke. A total of 12 studies (five randomized clinical trials and seven observational studies with a pre/postintervention) with 195 participants were included in the analysis. Interventions were within four to six weeks of stroke in nine of the studies, and within two to three weeks in the other three studies.

The investigators found that 11 of the studies recorded significant motor improvements after the application of VR technology. The effect of VR on motor impairment had an odds ratio of 4.89 in a pooled analysis of all five randomized controlled trials, but there was no significant difference seen in the Box and Block Test or motor function. Based on the observational studies, after VR, there was a 14.7 and 20.1 percent improvement in motor impairment and function, respectively.

"Stroke rehabilitation is rapidly evolving. Novel approaches, including the use of VR systems, may help improve motor impairment, activities, and social participation," the authors write.

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