Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the Western world, and leads to impaired balance and mobility.
To investigate the feasibility of using a Virtual Reality-based dual task of an upper extremity while treadmill walking, to improve gait and functional balance performance of chronic poststroke survivors.
Twenty-two individuals chronic poststroke participated in the study, and were divided into 2 groups (each group performing an 8-session exercise program): 11 participated in dual-task walking (DTW), and the other 11 participated in single-task treadmill walking (TMW). The study was a randomized controlled trial, with assessors blinded to the participants’ allocated group. Measurements were conducted at pretest, post-test, and follow-up. Outcome measures included: the 10-m walking test (10 mW), Timed Up and Go (TUG), the Functional Reach Test (FRT), the Lateral Reach Test Left/Right (LRT-L/R); the Activities-specific Balance Confidence (ABC) scale, and the Berg Balance Scale(BBS).
Improvements were observed in balance variables: BBS, FRT, LRT-L/R, (P < .01) favoring the DTW group; in gait variables: 10 mW time, also favoring the DTW group (P < .05); and the ABC scale (P < .01). No changes for interaction were observed in the TUG.
The results of this study demonstrate the potential of VR-based DTW to improve walking and balance in people after stroke; thus, it is suggested to combine training sessions that require the performance of multiple tasks at the same time.