Effectiveness of commercial gaming-based virtual reality movement therapy on functional recovery of upper extremity in subacute stroke patients

This study had the objective of investigating the effectiveness of commercial gaming-based virtual reality (VR) therapy on the recovery of paretic upper extremity in subacute stroke patients. Twenty patients with the first-onset subacute stroke were recruited and randomly placed in the case group (n=10) and the control group (n=10). Primary outcome was measured by the upper limb score through the Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA-UL) for the motor function of both upper extremities. Secondary outcomes were assessed for motor function of both upper extremities including manual function test (MFT), box and block test (BBT), grip strength, evaluated for activities of daily living (Korean version of Modified Barthel Index [K-MBI]), and cognitive functions (Korean version of the Mini-Mental State Examination [K-MMSE] and continuous performance test [CPT]). The case group received commercial gaming-based VR therapy using Wii (Nintendo, Tokyo, Japan), and the control group received conventional occupational therapy (OT) for 30 minutes a day during the period of 4 weeks. All patients were evaluated prior to and following the 4-week intervention. There weren’t any significant differences in the baseline between the two groups. After 4 weeks, both groups showed significant improvement in the FMA-UL, MFT, BBT, K-MBI, K-MMSE, and correct detection of auditory CPT. However, grip strength was improved significantly only in the case group. There were no significant intergroup differences before and after the treatment.

These findings indicated that the commercial gaming-based VR therapy was as effective as conventional OT on the recovery of upper extremity motor and daily living function in subacute stroke patients.