To investigate the efficacy of real instrument training in VR environment for improving upper-extremity and cognitive function after stroke.
Single-blind, randomized trial.
Enrolled subjects (N=31) were first-episode stroke, assessed for a period of 6 months after stroke onset; age between 20 and 85 years; patients with unilateral paralysis and a Fugl-Meyer assessment upper-extremity scale score >18.
Both groups were trained 30 min per day, 3 days a week, for 6 weeks, with the experimental group performing the VR combined real instrument training and the control group performing conventional occupational therapy.
Main Outcome Measures
Manual muscle test, Modified Ashworth scale, Fugl-Meyer upper motor scale, Hand grip, Box and Block, 9-hole pegboard, Korean mini-mental status examination, and Korean-Montreal cognitive assessment.
The experimental group showed greater therapeutic effects in a time-dependent manner than the control group, especially on the motor power of wrist extension, spasticity of elbow flexion and wrist extension, and box and block tests. Patients in the experimental group, but not the control, also showed significant improvements on the lateral, palmar, and tip pinch power; box and block, and 9-hole pegboard tests from before to immediately after training. Significantly greater improvements in the tip pinch power immediately after training and spasticity of elbow flexion 4 weeks after training completion were noted in the experimental group.
VR combined real instrument training was effective at promoting recovery of patients’ upper-extremity and cognitive function, and thus may be an innovative translational neurorehabilitation strategy after stroke.