Research Reports - Virtual reality-based therapy for the treatment of balance deficits in patients receiving inpatient rehabilitation for traumatic brain injury

Brain Inj. 2014;28(2):181-8

Cuthbert JP, Staniszewski K, Hays K, Gerber D, Natale A, O'Dell D

Abstract Objective: To evaluate the feasibility and safety of utilizing a
commercially available virtual reality gaming system as a treatment intervention
for balance training. Design: A randomized controlled trial in which assessment
and analysis were blinded. Setting: An inpatient rehabilitation facility.
Intervention: Interventions included balance-based physical therapy using a
Nintendo Wii, as monitored by a physical therapist, and receipt of one-on-one
balance-based physical therapy using standard physical therapy modalities
available for use in the therapy gym. Results: Participants in the standard
physical therapy group were found to have slightly higher enjoyment at
mid-intervention, while those receiving the virtual reality-based balance
intervention were found to have higher enjoyment at study completion. Both groups
demonstrated improved static and dynamic balance over the course of the study,
with no significant differences between groups. Correlational analyses suggest a
relationship exists between Wii balance board game scores and BBS scores for
measures taken beyond the baseline assessment. Conclusions: This study provides a
modest level of evidence to support using commercially available VR gaming
systems for the treatment of balance deficits in patients with a primary
diagnosis of TBI receiving inpatient rehabilitation. Additional research of these
types of interventions for the treatment of balance deficits is warranted.

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