Faster Movement in Response to Moving Target in Parkinson's

Movement speeds in patients with Parkinson's disease increase in virtual and physical reality

THURSDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- In both virtual reality (VR) and physical reality, patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) reach more slowly for stationary objects than controls, but have movement speeds similar to controls for moving targets, according to a study published online July 1 in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Ching-Yi Wang, O.T., from the National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan, and colleagues compared the ability to reach for stationary and moving targets in VR and in physical reality in 29 patients with PD and 25 age-matched controls. The participants repeatedly reached for one stationary ball and for four balls moving at different speeds in physical reality and VR. Success rates and kinematics of arm movement (amplitude of peak velocity, movement time, and percentage of movement time for acceleration phase) were the main outcomes measured.

The investigators found that the PD group had significantly longer movement time and lower peak velocity when reaching for stationary balls than controls, in both VR and physical reality. Levels of performance were similar between the two groups when moving targets were provided, with significantly greater improved movement time and peak velocity in the PD group than in controls. Most cueing conditions in VR elicited similar performance levels in both VR and physical reality, except for the performance elicited by the fastest moving ball (0.5-s target viewing time), which was worse in VR than in physical reality.

"Although slower than the controls when reaching for stationary balls, persons with PD increased movement speed in response to fast-moving balls in both VR and physical reality," the authors write.

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