VR environments help improve rehabilitation of impaired complex cognitive functions
Combining neuroimaging and VR boosts ecological validity, generates practical gains
These are the first neurofunctional predictive biomarkers of VR cognitive training
As Virtual reality (VR) is increasingly used in neurological disorders such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, or attention deficit disorder, the question of how it impacts the brain’s neuronal activity and function becomes essential. VR can be combined with neuroimaging to offer invaluable insight into how the targeted brain areas respond to stimulation during neurorehabilitation training. That, in turn, could eventually serve as a predictive marker for therapeutic success. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) identified neuronal activity related to blood flow to reveal with a high spatial resolution how activation patterns change, and restructuring occurs after VR training. Portable and quiet, electroencephalography (EEG) conveniently allows the clinician to track spontaneous electrical brain activity in high temporal resolution. Then, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) combines the spatial precision level of fMRIs with the portability and high temporal resolution of EEG to constitute an ideal measuring tool in virtual environments (VEs). This narrative review explores the role of VR and concurrent neuroimaging in cognitive rehabilitation.
Purpose: Recent studies argue that the use of virtual reality tasks depicting activities daily living may be effective means for cognitive rehabilitation. The aim of this study was to test an ecologically oriented approach in virtual reality resembling the demands of everyday life activities for cognitive rehabilitation following stroke.
Materials and Methods: The sample comprised 30 sub-acute stroke patients recovering from stroke in a rehabilitation hospital. They were assessed in a single-arm pre-post intervention study on global cognition, executive functions, memory and attention abilities. The intervention consisted of virtual reality in a multidomain cognitive training approach depicting everyday life tasks (preparing food, choosing clothes, shopping, etc.).
Results: Improvements were found in the assessed cognitive domains at 6 to 10 post-treatment sessions. In-depth analysis through reliable change scores has suggested larger treatment effects on global cognition.
Conclusions: Overall results suggest that the use of virtual reality-based exercises on everyday life activities may be a useful cognitive rehabilitation approach to provide short-term gains in cognition following stroke.
- Implications for rehabilitation
Virtual reality-based cognitive rehabilitation resembling everyday life activities may provide short-term gains in cognition of stroke patients;
Consistent improvements in executive functions may require higher treatment dosage than for improvements in global cognition.
via Computerized cognitive training using virtual reality on everyday life activities for patients recovering from stroke: Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology: Vol 0, No 0
To conduct an updated, systematic review of the clinical literature, classify studies based on the strength of research design, and derive consensual, evidence-based clinical recommendations for cognitive rehabilitation of people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) or stroke.
Online PubMed and print journal searches identified citations for 250 articles published from 2009 through 2014.
Selected for inclusion were 186 articles after initial screening. Fifty articles were initially excluded (24 focusing on patients without neurologic diagnoses, pediatric patients, or other patients with neurologic diagnoses, 10 noncognitive interventions, 13 descriptive protocols or studies, 3 nontreatment studies). Fifteen articles were excluded after complete review (1 other neurologic diagnosis, 2 nontreatment studies, 1 qualitative study, 4 descriptive articles, 7 secondary analyses). 121 studies were fully reviewed.
Articles were reviewed by the Cognitive Rehabilitation Task Force (CRTF) members according to specific criteria for study design and quality, and classified as providing class I, class II, or class III evidence. Articles were assigned to 1 of 6 possible categories (based on interventions for attention, vision and neglect, language and communication skills, memory, executive function, or comprehensive-integrated interventions).
Of 121 studies, 41 were rated as class I, 3 as class Ia, 14 as class II, and 63 as class III. Recommendations were derived by CRTF consensus from the relative strengths of the evidence, based on the decision rules applied in prior reviews.
CRTF has now evaluated 491 articles (109 class I or Ia, 68 class II, and 314 class III) and makes 29 recommendations for evidence-based practice of cognitive rehabilitation (9 Practice Standards, 9 Practice Guidelines, 11 Practice Options). Evidence supports Practice Standards for (1) attention deficits after TBI or stroke; (2) visual scanning for neglect after right-hemisphere stroke; (3) compensatory strategies for mild memory deficits; (4) language deficits after left-hemisphere stroke; (5) social-communication deficits after TBI; (6) metacognitive strategy training for deficits in executive functioning; and (7) comprehensive-holistic neuropsychological rehabilitation to reduce cognitive and functional disability after TBI or stroke.
via Evidence-Based Cognitive Rehabilitation: Systematic Review of the Literature From 2009 Through 2014 – Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
We present ongoing work to develop a virtual reality environment for the cognitive rehabilitation of patients as a part of their recovery from a stroke. A stroke causes damage to the brain and problem solving, memory and task sequencing are commonly affected. The brain can recover to some extent, however, and stroke patients have to relearn to carry out activities of daily learning. We have created an application called VIRTUE to enable such activities to be practiced using immersive virtual reality. Gamification techniques enhance the motivation of patients such as by making the level of difficulty of a task increase over time. The design and implementation of VIRTUE is presented together with the results of a small acceptability study.
via Virtual Reality Environment for the Cognitive Rehabilitation of Stroke Patients
Immersive VR environment for the training of safe road crossing decisions.
Relevant Lanes and Traffic Speed have a clear influence on task difficulty.
No clear influence could be found for the Gap Size.
The Number of Vehicles had almost no effect on the perceived task difficulty.
Two neuropsychologists stated that the system is ready for a study on patients.
via Difficulty Factors for VR Cognitive Rehabilitation Training – Crossing a Virtual Road – ScienceDirect
Introduction. Cognitive impairment after stroke has been associated with lower quality of life and independence in the long run, stressing the need for methods that target impairment for cognitive rehabilitation. The use of noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS) on recovery of language functions is well documented, yet the effects of NIBS on other cognitive domains remain largely unknown. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review that evaluates the effects of different stimulation techniques on domain-specific (long-term) cognitive recovery after stroke.
Methods. Three databases (PubMed, EMBASE, and PsycINFO) were searched for articles (in English) on the effects of NIBS on cognitive domains, published up to January 2018.
Results. A total of 40 articles were included: randomized controlled trials (n = 21), studies with a crossover design (n = 9), case studies (n = 6), and studies with a mixed design (n = 4). Most studies tested effects on neglect (n = 25). The majority of the studies revealed treatment effects on at least 1 time point poststroke, in at least 1 cognitive domain. Studies varied highly on the factors time poststroke, number of treatment sessions, and stimulation protocols. Outcome measures were generally limited to a few cognitive tests.
Conclusion. Our review suggests that NIBS is able to alleviate neglect after stroke. However, the results are still inconclusive and preliminary for the effect of NIBS on other cognitive domains. A standardized core set of outcome measures of cognition, also at the level of daily life activities and participation, and international agreement on treatment protocols, could lead to better evaluation of the efficacy of NIBS and comparisons between studies.
Individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are at heightened risk of developing dementia. Rapid advances in computing technology have enabled researchers to conduct cognitive training and rehabilitation interventions with the assistance of technology. This systematic review aims to evaluate the effects of technology-based cognitive training or rehabilitation interventions to improve cognitive function among individuals with MCI.
We conducted a systematic review using the following criteria: individuals with MCI, empirical studies, and evaluated a technology-based cognitive training or rehabilitation intervention. Twenty-six articles met the criteria.
Studies were characterized by considerable variation in study design, intervention content, and technologies applied. The major types of technologies applied included computerized software, tablets, gaming consoles, and virtual reality. Use of technology to adjust the difficulties of tasks based on participants’ performance was an important feature. Technology-based cognitive training and rehabilitation interventions had significant effect on global cognitive function in 8 out of 22 studies; 8 out of 18 studies found positive effects on attention, 9 out of 16 studies on executive function, and 16 out of 19 studies on memory. Some cognitive interventions improved non-cognitive symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and ADLs.
Technology-based cognitive training and rehabilitation interventions show promise, but the findings were inconsistent due to the variations in study design. Future studies should consider using more consistent methodologies. Appropriate control groups should be designed to understand the additional benefits of cognitive training and rehabilitation delivered with the assistance of technology.
Due to the aging of the world’s population, the number of people who live with dementia is projected to triple to 131 million by the year 2050 [1, 2]. Development of preventative strategies for individuals at higher risk of developing dementia is an international priority [3, 4]. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is regarded as an intermediate stage between normal cognition and dementia [5, 6]. Individuals with MCI usually suffer with significant cognitive complaints, yet do not exhibit the functional impairments required for a diagnosis of dementia. These people typically have a faster rate of progression to dementia than those without MCI , but the cognitive decline among MCI subjects has the potential of being improved [7, 8]. Previous systematic reviews of cognitive intervention studies, both cognitive training and cognitive rehabilitation, have demonstrated promising effects on improving cognitive function among subjects with MCI [3, 7, 9, 10].
Recently, rapid advances in computing technology have enabled researchers to conduct cognitive training and rehabilitation interventions with the assistance of technology. A variety of technologies, including virtual reality (VR), interactive video gaming, and mobile technology, have been used to implement cognitive training and rehabilitation programs. Potential advantages to using technology-based interventions include enhanced accessibility and cost-effectiveness, providing a user experience that is immersive and comprehensive, as well as providing adaptive responses based on individual performance. Many computerized cognitive intervention programs are easily accessed through a computer or tablet, and the technology can objectively collect data during the intervention to provide real-time feedback to participants or therapists. Importantly, interventions delivered using technology have shown better effects compared to traditional cognitive training and rehabilitation programs in improving cognitive function and quality of life [11–13]. The reasons for this superiority are not well-understood but could be related to the usability and motivational factors related to the real-time interaction and feedback received from the training system .
Three recent reviews of cognitive training and rehabilitation for use with individuals with MCI and dementia suggest that technology holds promise to improve both cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes [14–16]. The reviews conducted by Coyle, et al.  and Chandler, et al.  were limited by accessing articles from only two databases, and did not comprehensively cover available technologies. Hill, et al.  limited their review to papers published until July 2016 and included only older adults aged 60 and above. More technology-based intervention studies have been conducted since then, and only including studies with older adults 60 and above could limit the scope of the review given that adults can develop early-onset MCI in their 40s . Therefore, the purpose of this review is to 1) capture more studies using technology-based cognitive interventions by conducting a more comprehensive search using additional databases 2) understand the effect of technology-based cognitive interventions on improving abilities among individuals with MCI; and 3) examine the effects of multimodal technology-based interventions and their potential superiority compared to single component interventions.[…]
Continue —-> Technology-based cognitive training and rehabilitation interventions for individuals with mild cognitive impairment: a systematic review
•About 10% of TBI patients have a severe brain damage with severe motor and cognitive dysfunctions.
•New cognitive interventions, including VR training, can be useful in TBI.
•VR creates a positive, motivating and enjoyable learning experience for the TBI patients.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a clinical condition characterized by brain damage due to an external, rapid and violent force. TBI causes attention, memory, affectivity, behaviour, planning, and executive dysfunctions, with a significant impact on the quality of life of the patient and of his/her family. Cognitive and motor rehabilitation programs are essential for clinical recovery of TBI patients, improving functional outcomes and the quality of life. Various researches have underlined the possible effectiveness of innovative techniques, with regard to virtual reality (VR), during the different phases of rehabilitation after TBI. This review aims to evaluate the role of VR tools in cognitive assessment and rehabilitation in individuals affected by TBI. Studies performed between 2010 and 2017 and fulfilling the selected criteria were found on PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane and Web of Sciences databases. The search combined the terms VR, assessment, rehabilitation and TBI. Our review has shown that VR has the potential to provide an effective assessment and rehabilitation tool for the treatment of cognitive and behavioral impairment on TBI patients.
via Cognitive rehabilitation in patients with traumatic brain injury: A narrative review on the emerging use of virtual reality – Journal of Clinical Neuroscience
Stroke is one of the most common causes of acquired disability, leaving numerous adults with cognitive and motor impairments, and affecting patients’ capability to live independently. Virtual Reality (VR) based methods for stroke rehabilitation have mainly focused on motor rehabilitation but there is increasing interest toward the integration of cognitive training for providing more effective solutions. Here we investigate the feasibility for stroke recovery of a virtual cognitive-motor task, the Reh@Task, which combines adapted arm reaching, and attention and memory training. 24 participants in the chronic stage of stroke, with cognitive and motor deficits, were allocated to one of two groups (VR, Control). Both groups were enrolled in conventional occupational therapy, which mostly involves motor training. Additionally, the VR group underwent training with the Reh@Task and the control group performed time-matched conventional occupational therapy. Motor and cognitive competences were assessed at baseline, end of treatment (1 month) and at a 1-month follow-up through the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, Single Letter Cancelation, Digit Cancelation, Bells Test, Fugl-Meyer Assessment Test, Chedoke Arm and Hand Activity Inventory, Modified Ashworth Scale, and Barthel Index. Our results show that both groups improved in motor function over time, but the Reh@Task group displayed significantly higher between-group outcomes in the arm subpart of the Fugl-Meyer Assessment Test. Improvements in cognitive function were significant and similar in both groups. Overall, these results are supportive of the viability of VR tools that combine motor and cognitive training, such as the Reh@Task. Trial Registration:This trial was not registered because it is a small clinical study that addresses the feasibility of a prototype device.
Stroke is one of the most common causes of adult disability and its prevalence is likely to increase with an aging population (WHO, 2015). It is estimated that 33–42% of stroke survivors require assistance for daily living activities 3–6 months post-stroke and 36% continue to be disabled 5 years later (Teasell et al., 2012). Loss of motor control and muscle strength of the upper extremity are the most prevalent deficits and are those that have a greater impact on functional capacity (Saposnik, 2016). Hence, its recovery is fundamental for minimizing long-term disability and improving quality of life. In fact, most rehabilitation interventions focus on facilitating recovery through motor learning principles (Kleim and Jones, 2008). However, learning engages also cognitive processes such as attention, memory and executive functioning, all of which may be affected by stroke (Cumming et al., 2013). Still, conventional rehabilitation methodologies are mostly motor focused, although 70% of patients experience some degree of cognitive decline (Gottesman and Hillis, 2010), which also affects their capability to live independently (Langhorne et al., 2011).[…]
Continue —> Frontiers | Combined Cognitive-Motor Rehabilitation in Virtual Reality Improves Motor Outcomes in Chronic Stroke – A Pilot Study | Psychology
FIGURE 1. Experimental setup and VR task. (A) The user works on a tabletop and arm movements are captured by augmented reality pattern tracking. These movements are mapped onto the movements of a virtual arm on the screen for the execution of the cancelation task. (B) The target stimuli can be letters, numbers, and symbols in black or different colors. The target stimuli in this picture are ordered by increasing complexity.