A Systematic Review of Virtual Reality Stroke Therapy

A Systematic Review of Virtual Reality Stroke Therapy

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In the past couple of years, there has been an increase of game device use for areas other than actual gaming. The newest area of use is for physical health. Medical researchers and physical therapists are finding that using virtual reality games are very helpful in terms of treatment and rehabilitation for stroke patients. The interest for this type of treatment has been gaining popularity, and researchers are starting to realize and prove that using games provides better results than conventional methods.

Keith R. Lohse et al published a study in 2014 that compiled other research studies that used various gaming equipment to help post-stroke adult patients with their rehabilitation. Their article, “Virtual Reality Therapy for Adults Post-Stroke: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Exploring Virtual Environments and Commercial Games in Therapy”, takes a look at how well custom-made virtual environments and commercially available gaming systems, such as Nintendo Wii and PlayStation EyeToy, worked for patients in comparison to traditional therapy.

Below is a link to the table of the characteristics of each trial compared in the research paper study:

Table showing characteristics of trials comparing virtual reality therapy to conventional therapy in adults post-stroke

The table shows: the researchers of each study, which therapies they compared against each other, and the expected outcome versus the actual outcome.

Overall the study shows that Virtual reality therapy, when delivered as virtual environments or commercially available games, was more effective in comparison to traditional therapy. However, there was not enough evidence to clearly see the benefit of commercially available gaming systems with post-stroke patients’ rehabilitation. Nonetheless Lohse et al stated that future research in that area, specifically, could help with the lack of evidence. If funded properly, this research could even help expand the use of gaming to different areas of health, and eventually every area of life; making the world a more interesting place to live in.

Image credit: flickr

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