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[BOOK] Chapter 5: Hand Rehabilitation after Chronic Brain Damage: Effectiveness, Usability and Acceptance of Technological Devices: A Pilot Study – Full Text

THE BOOK:  “Physical Disabilities – Therapeutic Implications”, book edited by Uner Tan, ISBN 978-953-51-3248-6, Print ISBN 978-953-51-3247-9, Published: June 14, 2017 under CC BY 3.0 license. © The Author(s).

CHAPTER 5: By Marta Rodríguez-Hernández, Carmen Fernández-Panadero, Olga López-Martín and Begoña Polonio-López



Purpose: The aim is to present an overview of existing tools for hand rehabilitation after brain injury and a pilot study to test HandTutor® in patients with chronic brain damage (CBD).

Method: Eighteen patients with CBD have been selected to test perception on effectiveness, usability and acceptance of the device. This group is a sample of people belonging to a wider study consisting in a randomized clinical trial (RCT) that compares: (1) experimental group that received a treatment that combines the use of HandTutor® with conventional occupational therapy (COT) and (2) control group that receives only COT.

Results: Although no statistical significance has been analysed, patients report acceptance and satisfaction with the treatment, decrease of muscle tone, increase of mobility and better performance in activities of daily life. Subjective perceptions have been contrasted with objective measures of the range of motion before and after the session. Although no side effects have been observed after intervention, there has been some usability problems during setup related with putting on gloves in patients with spasticity.

Conclusions: This chapter is a step further of evaluating the acceptance of technological devices in chronic patients with CBD, but more research is needed to validate this preliminary results.

1. Introduction

According to the World Health Organization [1], cerebrovascular accidents (stroke) are the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability. The last update of the global Burden of Ischemic and Haemorrhagic Stroke [2] indicates that although age-standardized rates of stroke mortality have decreased worldwide in the past two decades, the absolute numbers of people who have a stroke every year are increasing. In 2013, there were 10.3 million of new strokes, 6.5 million deaths from stroke, almost 25.7 million stroke survivors and 113 million of people with disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) due to stroke.

One of the most frequent problems after stroke is upper limb (UL) impairments such as muscle weakness, contractures, changes in muscle tone, and other problems related to coordination of arms, hands or fingers [3, 4]. These impairments induce disabilities in common movements such as reaching, picking up or holding objects and difficult activities of daily living (ADLs) such as washing, eating or dressing, their participation in society, and their professional activities [5]. Most of people experiencing this upper limb impairment will still have problems chronically several years after the stroke. Impairment in the upper limbs is one of the most prevalent consequences of stroke. For this reason making rehabilitation is an essential step towards clinical recovery, patient empowerment and improvement of their quality of life. [6, 7].

Traditionally, therapies are usually provided to patients during their period of hospitalization by physical and occupational therapists and consist in mechanical exercises conducted by the therapists. However, in the last decades, many changes have been introduced in the rehabilitation of post-stroke patients. On the one hand, increasingly, treatments extend in time beyond the period of hospitalization and extend in the space, beyond the hospital to the patient’s home [8]. On the other hand, new agents are involved in treatments, health professionals (doctors, nurses) and non-health professionals (engineers, exercise professionals, carers and family). Most of these changes have been made possible thanks to the development of technology [9].

2. Technological devices for upper limb rehabilitation

In the last 10 years, there has been increasing interest in the use of different technological devices for upper limb (UL) rehabilitation generally [5, 9], and particularly hand rehabilitation for stroke patients [10]. These studies have approached the problem from different points of view: (1) on the one hand, by analysing the physiological and psychophysical characteristics of different devices [11], (2) on the other analysing the key aspects of design and usability [12] and (3) finally studying its effectiveness in therapy [13, 14]. According to Kuchinke [12], these technical devices can be organized into two big groups: (1) on the one hand, devices based on virtual reality (VR) and (2) on the other robotic glove-like devices (GDs).

One of the main advantage of VRs and serious games [15] is to promote task-oriented and repetitive movement training of motor skill while using a variety of stimulating environments and facilitates adherence to treatment in the long term [16]. These devices can be used at home and in most cases do not require special investment in therapeutic hardware because they can use game consumables existing at home such as Nintendo(R) Wii1 [17, 18], Leapmotion2 [19, 20] or Kinect sensor3 [21, 22]. Although first systematic studies based in VRs indicate that there is insufficient evidence to determine its effectiveness compared to conventional therapies [8], more recent studies [13, 14, 23] offer moderate evidence on the benefits of VR for UL motor improvement. Most researchers agree that VRs work well as coadjuvant to complement more conventional therapies; however, further studies with larger samples are needed to identify most suitable type of VR systems, to determine if VR results are sustained in the long term and to define the most appropriate treatment frequency and intensity using VR systems in post-stroke patients.

On the other hand, robotic systems and glove-like devices that provide extrinsic feedback like kinaesthetic and/or tactile stimulation have stronger evidence in the literature that improve motion ability of post-stroke patients [10, 24, 25]. Most of the evidences about effectiveness of GDs are based in pilot studies with non-commercial prototypes [2630], but nowadays, there are also several commercial glove-like devices that support hand rehabilitation therapies for these patients such as HandTutor® [31, 32], Music Glove [3335], Rapael Smart Glove [36] or CyberTouch [16, 37]. The main disadvantages of GDs are price, availability, because they are not yet widespread, and in some case the difficulty of setup handling and ergonomics.

As far as we know, there is little evidence in the literature supporting commercial glove-like devices for hand rehabilitation. This chapter presents a randomized clinical study (RCS) to test HandTutor® System in patients with chronic brain damage (CBD). There are some promising studies that show positive results by applying the HandTutor® in different groups of patients with stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI) [31, 32], but samples include only people who are in the acute or subacute disease or injury but do not include chronic patients. This may be due to the added difficulty of obtaining positive results in interventions aimed at this group, in addition to the characteristics of adaptability and usability of the device that it is also harder for this kind of patients. The present work focuses on hand rehabilitation for chronic post-stroke patients.

3. Experimental design

We have conducted a pilot study (PS) to test acceptance, usability and adaptability of HandTutor® device in patients with chronic brain damage (CBD). This work describes setup, study protocol and preliminary results.

3.1. Participants description

Eligible participants met the following inclusion criteria: (1) At least 18-year age, (2) diagnosed with acquired brain injury: stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI) and (3) chronic brain damage (more than 24 months from injury). In the final sample, 18 participants aged between 30 and 75 years old, 28% of subjects included in the pilot study are diagnosed with TBI and the remaining 72% of stroke; of these, more than half (56%) have left hemiplegia. The time from injury time exceeds 24 months, reaching 61% of cases 5 years of evolution. All the subjects included in the study attend regularly to a direct care acquired brain injury centre.

3.2. Device description

HandTutor® is a task-oriented device consistent on an ergonomic wearable glove and a laptop with rehabilitation software to enable functional training of hand, wrist and fingers. There are different models to fit both hands (left and right) and different sizes. The system allows the realization of an intensive and repetitive training but, at the same time, is flexible and adaptable to different motor abilities of patients after suffering a neurological, traumatological or rheumatological injury. The software allows the therapist to obtain different types of measures and to customize treatments for different patients, adapting the exercises to their physical and cognitive impairments. The HandTutor® provides augmented feedback and allows the participation of the user in different games that require practising their motor skills to achieve the game objective. Game objectives are highly challenging for patients and promote the improvement of deteriorated skills.

3.3. Study protocol

A randomized clinical trial (RCT) has been conducted with an experimental group and a control group. Participants in the experimental group have been treated with HandTutor® technological device, combined with conventional occupational therapy (set of functional tasks aimed at the mobility of the upper limb in ADLs). The control group only received conventional occupational therapy. All participants in the experimental group attend two weekly sessions with HandTutor®. Both groups received a weekly session of conventional therapy. It is a longitudinal study with pre-post intervention assessment, in which each subject is his control.

This chapter describes the first phase of the RCT, consisting of a pilot study (PS) to test the acceptance, usability and adaptability of the device by patients. For the PS, 18 patients of the global group were selected. Each subject completed four sessions using HandTutor® in both hands and a weekly session of COT. Each session includes quantitative and qualitative evaluation. The former one includes pre-intervention, and post-intervention assessment evaluating passive and active joint range of fingers and wrist, the latter include patients’ interviews and therapist’s observations. During the session, participants receive immediate visual and sensory feedback about their performance during exercises.

Each session includes a pre-intervention assessment and a back, wrist and hand. At the beginning of the session, the therapist evaluated the passive and active joint range of all fingers and wrist (flexion and extension). After the session, patient and therapist reviewed the increased joint range achieved during therapy on the joints involved. The software allows analysing and comparing the minimum and maximum levels in each of the movements required by the exercise. Each session lasts 45 minutes and consists of two exercises that focus their activity in flexion and extension of wrist and fingers independently, reaction speed and accuracy of the selected motion to move some elements included in the exercise.

First exercise of the session consisted in score as many balls as possible in the basket situated at the left of the patient. Every ball came to the patient from his right side. The goal of the second exercise of the session was destroying cylindrical rocks that were going from the right side to a planet situated in the left side. In both exercises, none of the elements appeared at the same height. That is why the patient had to adjust the degrees of flexion and extension of wrist, fingers or both. The occupational therapist could modify the speed, number of balls and minimum and maximum of degrees to achieve the accomplishment.

In addition to the quantitative variables described above, the therapist evaluated with qualitative methodology through interviews and observation, the condition of the skin (redness in the contact area with the glove), increased muscle tone, pain, motivation and difficulty understanding the instructions, level of usability, applicability and functionality of the patient. During the intervention, the therapist verbally corrected offsets trunk and lower limbs, annotating associated reactions in the facial muscles.

4. Results and discussion

All the participants of the experimental group completed the pilot study (n = 18). Table 1 shows the passive and active range of motion (ROM) of the preseason evaluation in fingers and wrist, divided by diagnostic (stroke vs. traumatic brain injury). Every data about ROM is shown in millimetres (average score). In the evaluation, it is noted that the hand of the participants with traumatic brain injury showed lower passive and active joints in all of the fingers (active: V: 9, IV: 10, III: 9, II: 8 and I: 10; passive: V and IV: 14, III: 11, II: 17 and I: 16), except in the wrist (stroke: active 8; passive 23 vs. traumatic brain injury: active 18; passive 20).

Stroke (average in mm) Traumatic brain injury (average in mm)
Range of motion (flexo-extension)




Active flexion deficit


Active extension deficit


Treatments sessions log
Reaction speed
Time in seconds (half)
Number of objects
Primary ranger



Table 1.

Hand ROM evaluation pre-session and treatments sessions log.

Participants with stroke show higher deficits in the flexion active of the first, second and fifth fingers (9, 5.6 and 5.6, respectively), while the extension appears more weakened in the second and third fingers (7 and 8.4, respectively). However, the participants with traumatic brain injury show higher deficit of flexion in the third finger and the extension in the second, fourth and fifth fingers.

In every session, exercises were configured with the same reaction speed and the same number of objects, to allow the participants to achieve the maximum number of hits. Some of them showed deficit of attention, which means that the speed and the increase of stimulations could decrease the final scores and the motivation of the intervention. In the case of the participants who show spasticity, this speed allows them to autorelax and control the hand between the stimulations. The length of exercises were modified according to the muscular and attentional fatigue of the participant, starting with 5 minutes and decreasing, in some cases, up to 3 minutes. All the participants reached the accuracy of movement calculated by the system, according to the preseason ROM evaluation. Also, all of them were allowed to work all of the primary movement range calculated in the evaluation.

At the beginning of the session, the occupational therapist explained the exercise to the participant and conducted a 1-minute test to check understanding. Only was necessary to provide additional verbal instruction to improve comprehension in the 11% of the cases.

Figures 1 and 2 show the ROM evaluation of the hand. In Figure 1, the active evaluation of flexion of wrist and extension of fingers is observed. Figure 2 includes the graphic representation of the millimetres of active movements (in red colour) versus the passive ones (in blue colour) of two hands with left hemiplegia (1 and 2) and two hands of participants with traumatic brain injury (tetraparesis and predominance of affectation in the right hemibody).


Figure 1.

Hand ROM evaluation (active).


Figure 2.

Hand ROM evaluation HandTutor® (passive and active).

Figures 3 and 4 display the functioning of the HandTutor® during the intervention. Figure 3 shows the glove with the hand in flexo-extension, while Figure 4 shows the assisted movement of the occupational therapist to obtain the higher ranges of flexion in a participant who shows rigidity and attentional issues. Besides, in the contralateral hand, it can be seen the associated reactions in the top member, which is not forming a part of the intervention. The hand replicates the movement that the occupational therapist is trying to get in the most affected member.


Figure 3.

Flexo-extension hand with HandTutor®.


Figure 4.

Example of assisted movement with HandTutor®.

Figures 5 and 6 show maximum and minimum scores for diagnostic. In them, it can be observed the heterogeneity of the flexion and extension movement of the participants in the study. Regarding the wrist, it is not observed huge differences by diagnostic, except in the minimum flexo-extension of the stroke group, especially in the extension. Nevertheless, the articular ranges of the fingers differ until they reach a difference of 20 millimetres in the third finger in the case of the group diagnosed with stroke, coinciding with the group diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.


Figure 5.

Flexo-extension maximum and minimum of fingers in treatments sessions log.


Figure 6.

Flexo-extension maximum and minimum of wrist in treatments session logs.

Participants referred increasing satisfaction with this new therapy. During the intervention, the software provided quantitative measures and immediate feedback of variations in patient mobility showing that HandTutor® sensors are highly sensitive to small variations in patient movement. In post-intervention interviews, patients reported that the glove decreases muscle tone of the hand and wrist, allowing ending the session with increased mobility.

All sessions evaluated qualitatively, through an interview, the following parameters: skin condition, motivation, difficulty in the understanding of instructions, level of HandTutor® utility, clinic applicability and satisfaction.

During the sessions, no side effects were observed related to the skin or post-intervention pain related with the hand use. Every participant ended the sessions without any visible injury in the skin (absence of redness, marks or changes in the coloration) and without any kind of pain. This was evaluated both at the end of the session and at the beginning of the next. To be able to contrast the information in relation with the skin condition and the pain, the data were triangulated by asking the participant and his/her primary caregiver the following day of every intervention. In both cases, they confirmed our data.

All participants referred high level of motivation and satisfaction at the end of the intervention due to the perceived higher performance of limb segments and joins involved in the exercises in their activities of daily life (ADLs). The subjective perception of the patient was checked by comparing the ROM (active vs. passive) pre-post measurement session. All participants showed and transmitted a great motivation and satisfaction with the HandTutor® intervention, except for one user. This one presents acoustic, visual and tactile hypersensitivity. After the pilot study, this participant transmitted that the glove, the sound and the images of the system induced in him/her nervousness and rejection. This information was contrasted with caregivers and professionals of the centre.

Some difficulties were found at the following of the exercise instructions, the motivation and interest maintenance during the 11% of the cases, as a consequence of the presence of attention and/or memory impairments.

All participants shared the sensation of decreasing the muscular tone, immediately at the end of every session and transmitted that this feeling stayed all day long, allowing them a higher mobility and independence at the ADLs.

During the study, some problems were observed associated with the difficulty in putting on the HandTutor® glove, especially in hands with high degrees of spasticity, mainly in diagnosed cases of traumatic brain injury (27.8%; Figure 7). Participants with lower ROM valued positively that the exercise was adapted to their possibilities, so they can reach and move objects even with their limited mobility. The 20% of the users valued negatively the weight of the system placed in the forearm, especially those with weak musculature. The occupational therapists reduced the gravity effect including a cradle to facility the placement of the forearm.


Figure 7.

Spastic hand with HandTutor®.

In those patients that showed sweating, there were placed vinyl or latex gloves on their hands to avoid direct contact with the glove.

Therefore, it seems that the HandTutor® is a device with high degrees of acceptance and usability among patients with CBD.

5. Conclusions

This chapter is a step further of evaluating the acceptance of technological devices in chronic patients with CBD. On one hand, in the theoretical part of the study, we have found in the literature strong evidence confirming the effectiveness of glove-like devices in hand rehabilitation after brain injury, but no so solid evidence of VRs effectiveness over traditional treatment. On the other hand, the practical pilot study to test HandTutor points in the expected direction confirming participants’ satisfaction about effectiveness and ergonomics of glove-like devices, but according to Ref. [12], there are still some issues to be solved in the usability of these devices for patients with spasticity.

The grade of usability of the HandTutor® device with chronic patients with CBD is high; we only find difficulties in those who show attention disorders and/or memory issues or sensorial hypersensibility. The degree of spasticity should also be taken into account in the design of the experience, because difficulties may arise in the placement of the device when the degree of spasticity is high or there is rigidity or other associated reactions.

Most of the studies performed with active gloves similar to HandTutor® device have been performed in patients in the acute or subacute phase of brain damage. It is important to emphasize that in this study, unlike the previous ones, the rehabilitation has been done with patients with more than 24 months of evolution since the diagnosis of the damage and therefore with a very high degree of chronicity in the neurological sequelae. This is one of the main contributions of the presented work since the more time has passed since the diagnosis of brain damage; the more difficult it is to achieve significant improvements with rehabilitation.

In our study, the HandTutor® device has performed effectively for the spasticity treatment in patients with CBD, producing improvements in the performance of the ADLs and elevating the motivation and satisfaction grades with his use in rehabilitation processes. However, this trial does not provide significant statistical evidence about HandTutor® effectiveness, and it would be recommendable to replicate the study with more participants to confirm our findings.

6. Acknowledgements

Work partially funded by SYMBHYO-ITC [MCINN PTQ-15-0705], RESET [MCINN TIN2014-53199-C3-1-R], eMadrid [CAM S2013/ICE-2715] and PhyMEL [UC3M 2015/00402/001] projects. Authors would like to thank Maria Pulido for their feedback in VR devices, and we also want to express our gratitude to the patients involved in the pilot study.


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Source: Hand Rehabilitation after Chronic Brain Damage: Effectiveness, Usability and Acceptance of Technological Devices: A Pilot Study | InTechOpen

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[Conference paper] Assistance System for Rehabilitation and Valuation of Motor Skills – Abstract+References


This article proposes a non-invasive system to stimulate the rehabilitation of motor skills, both of the upper limbs and lower limbs. The system contemplates two ambiances for human-computer interaction, depending on the type of motor deficiency that the patient possesses, i.e., for patients with chronic injuries, an augmented reality environment is considered, while virtual reality environments are used in people with minor injuries. In the cases mentioned, the interface allows visualizing both the routine of movements performed by the patient and the actual movement executed by him.

This information is relevant for the purpose of

  • (i) stimulating the patient during the execution of rehabilitation, and
  • (ii) evaluation of the movements made so that the therapist can diagnose the progress of the patient’s rehabilitation process.

The visual environment developed for this type of rehabilitation provides a systematic application in which the user first analyzes and generates the necessary movements in order to complete the defined task.

The results show the efficiency of the system generated by the human-computer interaction oriented to the development of motor skills.


Source: Assistance System for Rehabilitation and Valuation of Motor Skills | SpringerLink

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[ARTICLE] Using Xbox kinect motion capture technology to improve clinical rehabilitation outcomes for balance and cardiovascular health in an individual with chronic TBI – Full Text



Motion capture virtual reality-based rehabilitation has become more common. However, therapists face challenges to the implementation of virtual reality (VR) in clinical settings. Use of motion capture technology such as the Xbox Kinect may provide a useful rehabilitation tool for the treatment of postural instability and cardiovascular deconditioning in individuals with chronic severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a Kinect-based VR intervention using commercially available motion capture games on balance outcomes for an individual with chronic TBI. The secondary purpose was to assess the feasibility of this intervention for eliciting cardiovascular adaptations.


A single system experimental design (n = 1) was utilized, which included baseline, intervention, and retention phases. Repeated measures were used to evaluate the effects of an 8-week supervised exercise intervention using two Xbox One Kinect games. Balance was characterized using the dynamic gait index (DGI), functional reach test (FRT), and Limits of Stability (LOS) test on the NeuroCom Balance Master. The LOS assesses end-point excursion (EPE), maximal excursion (MXE), and directional control (DCL) during weight-shifting tasks. Cardiovascular and activity measures were characterized by heart rate at the end of exercise (HRe), total gameplay time (TAT), and time spent in a therapeutic heart rate (TTR) during the Kinect intervention. Chi-square and ANOVA testing were used to analyze the data.


Dynamic balance, characterized by the DGI, increased during the intervention phase χ 2 (1, N = 12) = 12, p = .001. Static balance, characterized by the FRT showed no significant changes. The EPE increased during the intervention phase in the backward direction χ 2 (1, N = 12) = 5.6, p = .02, and notable improvements of DCL were demonstrated in all directions. HRe (F (2,174) = 29.65, p = < .001) and time in a TTR (F (2, 12) = 4.19, p = .04) decreased over the course of the intervention phase.


Use of a supervised Kinect-based program that incorporated commercial games improved dynamic balance for an individual post severe TBI. Additionally, moderate cardiovascular activity was achieved through motion capture gaming. Further studies appear warranted to determine the potential therapeutic utility of commercial VR games in this patient population.

Trial registration ID – NCT02889289


The last two decades demonstrated an exponential trend in the implementation of virtual reality (VR) in clinical settings [1]. Researchers and clinicians alike are enticed by the potential of this technology to enhance neuroplasticity secondary to rehabilitation interventions. Currently, Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation, and Microsoft Xbox offer commercially developed semi-immersive VR platforms which are used for rehabilitation [2]. Several studies report positive effects of these commercial technologies for improving balance, coordination and strength [345]. In 2010, Microsoft introduced a novel infrared camera that works on the Xbox platform called Kinect. The Kinect camera replaces hand held remote controls through the use of whole body motion capture technology.

Whole body motion capture VR allows a unique opportunity for individuals to experience a heightened sense of realism during task-specific therapeutic activities. However, clinicians need to be able to match a game’s components to an individual’s functional deficits. Seamon et al. [6] provided a clinical demonstration of how the Kinect platform can be used with Gentiles taxonomy for progressively challenging postural stability and influencing motor learning in a patient with progressive supranuclear palsy. Similarly, Levac et al. [7] developed a clinical framework titled, “Kinecting with Clinicians” (KWiC) to broadly address implementation barriers. The KWiC resource describes mini-games from Kinect Adventures on the Xbox 360 in order to provide a comprehensive document for clinicians to reference. Clinicians can use KWiC to base game selection and play on their client’s goals and the therapist’s plan of care for that individual.

In parallel with knowledge translation research, several studies found postural control improvements in multiple diagnostic groups including individuals with chronic stroke [8910], Friedrich’s Ataxia [11], multiple sclerosis [12], Parkinson’s disease [13], and mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) [14] when using Kinect based rehabilitation. Additional research shows that exercising with the Kinect system can reach an appropriate intensity for cardiovascular adaptation. For example, Neves et al. [15] and Salonini et al. [16] reported increases in exercise heart rate and blood pressure in healthy individuals and children with cystic fibrosis while playing Kinect games. Similarly, Kafri et al. [17] reported the ability of individuals post-stroke to reach levels of light to moderate intensity using Kinect games.

Individuals with TBI are likely to have a peak aerobic capacity 65–74% to that of healthy control subjects [18]. There is limited research on cardiovascular training after severe TBI [18]. However, Bateman et al. [19] demonstrated that individuals with severe TBI can improve cardiovascular fitness during a 12-week program participants exercised at an intensity equal to 60–80% of their maximum heart rate 3 days per week. Commercial Xbox Kinect games, such as Just Dance 3, have been shown to improve cardiovascular outcomes for individuals with chronic stroke [20]. However, there is a lack of research investigating the efficacy of motion capture VR on cardiovascular health for individuals with chronic severe TBI. Walker et al. [21] makes the recommendation for rehabilitation programs to go beyond independence in basic mobility and to develop treatment strategies to address high-level physical activities. The high rates of sedentary behavior in individuals across all severities of TBI could be attributed the lack of addressing these limitations in activity.

Postural instability is the second most frequent, self-reported limitation, 5 years post injury for individuals with severe TBI [22]. It is unknown whether use of motion capture VR in individuals with severe, chronic TBI can address neuromotor impairments related to high-level activities such as maintaining postural control during walking. Similarly, there is a need to determine if training with VR motion capture can attain necessary intensity levels for inducing cardiovascular adaptation. Due to this knowledge gap and heterogencity of individuals post TBI, feasibility of investigatory interventions should be explored prior to examining effectiveness with randomized control trials. Single system experimental design (SSED) provides a higher level of rigor compared to case studies based on the ability to compare outcomes across phase conditions with the participant acting as their own control. The value of SSED within rehabilitation has been noted by other investigators [2324] making it an attractive design for practitioners aiming to gain insight into novel clinical interventions prior to large scale clinical trials. The purpose of this proof of concept and feasibility study was to evaluate the effectiveness of commercially available Xbox One Kinect games as a treatment modality for the rehabilitation of balance and cardiovascular fitness for a veteran with chronic severe TBI. Additionally, we provide herein a description of the Kinect games to assist providers with clinical implementation. […]

Continue —>  Using Xbox kinect motion capture technology to improve clinical rehabilitation outcomes for balance and cardiovascular health in an individual with chronic TBI | Archives of Physiotherapy | Full Text


Fig. 1 Dynamic gait index (DGI) scores across phases with celeration line analyses. Two-standard deviation (2 SD) celeration line was used for chi-square analysis between baseline and intervention phases as no trend present in baseline phase. The celeration line was carried through the retention phase for Chi-square analysis due to presence of upward trend in intervention phase

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[Abstract + References] Virtual fine rehabilitation in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome using low-cost devices

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) happens when there is a compression of the median nerve between the forearm and the hand. This disorder causes an influence on basic and instrumental Activities of Daily Living. The motor disruptions are muscle weakness, tingling, and heaviness in the hand. The main disorder which subjects suffer with CTS is pain. To alleviate or mitigate pain in CTS, there are different techniques such as pharmacologic treatments, splints to immobilize the wrist, surgery, and physical therapy. Novel and customizable low-cost devices together with Virtual Environments are a good complement in rehabilitation sessions for this syndrome. The aim of this present study is to test a novel system, Virtual Rehabilitation Carpal Tunnel (VRCT), in patients with CTS. For this purpose, we have tested our system with four CTS patients (experimental group). At the same time, four CTS patients were tested using traditional rehabilitation. Phalen and Tinel test were used to analyze the results. The results obtained showed greater improvement in the experimental group during the intervention period. Future research will be focused on the analysis of the follow-up period.


Note: OCR errors may be found in this Reference List extracted from the full text article. ACM has opted to expose the complete List rather than only correct and linked references.

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Heuser A, Kourtev H, Winter S, Fensterheim D, Burdea G, Hentz V, Forducey P. Telerehabilitation using the Rutgers Master II glove following carpal tunnel release surgery: proof-of-concept. IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2007Mar;15(1):43–9.  [doi>10.1109/TNSRE.2007.891393]
Thiese MS, Gerr F, Hegmann KT, Harris-Adamson C, Dale AM, Evanoff B, Eisen EA, Kapellusch J, Garg A, Burt S, Bao S, Silverstein B, Merlino L, Rempel D. Effects of varying case definition on carpal tunnel syndrome prevalence estimates in a pooled cohort. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Dec;95(12):2320–6.  [doi>10.1016/j.apmr.2014.08.004]
Castro, A. do A. e, Skare, TL, Nassif PAN, Sakuma AK, Barros WH Sonographic diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome: a study in 200 hospital workers. Radiologia Brasileira. 2015;48(5), 287–291.  [doi>10.1590/0100-3984.2014.0069]
Alfonso C, Jann S, Massa R, Torreggiani A. Diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of the carpal tunnel syndrome: a review. Neurol Sci. 2010 Jun;31(3):243–52.  [doi>10.1007/s10072-009-0213-9]
Newington L, Harris EC,Walker-Bone K. Carpal tunnel syndrome and work. Best Practice & Research. Clinical Rheumatology. 2015; 29(3), 440–453.  [doi>10.1016/j.berh.2015.04.026]
Fu T, Cao M, Liu F, Zhu J, Ye D, Feng X, Xu Y, Wang G, Bai Y. Carpal tunnel syndrome assessment with ultrasonography: value of inlet-to-outlet median nerve area ratio in patients versus healthy volunteers. PLoS One. 2015 Jan 24;10(1):e0116777.  [doi>10.1371/journal.pone.0116777]
Phalen GS.The carpal-tunnel syndrome. Seventeen years’ experience in diagnosis and treatment of six hundred fifty-four hands. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1966; 48: 2112228.  [doi>10.2106/00004623-196648020-00001]
Madenci E, Altindag O, Koca I, Yilmaz M, Gur A. Reliability and efficacy of the new massage technique on the treatment in the patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Rheumatol Int. 2012 Oct;32(10):3171–9.  [doi>10.1007/s00296-011-2149-7]
Fernández-de-Las Peñas C, Ortega-Santiago R, de la Llave-Rincón AI, Martínez-Perez A, Fahandezh-Saddi Díaz H, Martínez-Martín J, Pareja JA, Cuadrado-Pérez ML. Manual Physical Therapy Versus Surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Randomized Parallel-Group Trial. J Pain. 2015 Nov;16(11):1087–94.  [doi>10.1016/j.jpain.2015.07.012]
Johansson BB. Multisensory stimulation in stroke rehabilitation. Front Hum Neurosci. 2012 Apr 9;6:60.  [doi>10.3389/fnhum.2012.00060]
Brunner I, Skouen JS, Hofstad H, Strand LI, Becker F, Sanders AM, Pallesen H, Kristensen T, Michielsen M, Verheyden G. Virtual reality training for upper extremity in subacute stroke (VIRTUES): study protocol for a randomized controlled multicenter trial. BMC Neurol. 2014 Sep 28;14:186.  [doi>10.1186/s12883-014-0186-z]
Albiol-Pérez S, Gil-Gómez JA, Llorens R, Alcañiz M, Font CC. The role of virtual motor rehabilitation: a quantitative analysis between acute and chronic patients with acquired brain injury. IEEE J Biomed Health Inform. 2014 Jan;18(1):391–8.  [doi>10.1109/JBHI.2013.2272101]
Albiol-Pérez S, Forcano-García M, Muñoz-Tomás MT, Manzano-Fernández P, Solsona-Hernández S, Mashat MA, Gil-Gómez JA. A novel virtual motor rehabilitation system for Guillain-Barré syndrome. Two single case studies. Methods Inf Med. 2015;54(2):127–34.  [doi>10.3414/ME14-02-0002]
Merians AS, Poizner H, Boian R, Burdea G, Adamovich S. Sensorimotor training in a virtual reality environment: does it improve functional recovery poststroke? Neurorehabil Neural Repair 2006; 20:252–267.  [doi>10.1177/1545968306286914]
Tansel H, Sinan K, Doga D, Marc W., Kyle E. MoMiReS: Mobile mixed reality system for physical & occupational therapies for hand and wrist ailments. Innovations in Technology Conference (InnoTek), 2014 IEEE.
Gil-Gómez J.-A., Gil-Gómez H., Lozano-Quilis J.-A., Manzano-Hernández P., Albiol-Pérez S., Aula-Valero C.: SEQ: suitability evaluation questionnaire for virtual rehabilitation systems. Application in a virtual rehabilitation system for balance rehabilitation. In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare (PervasiveHealth ’13). 335–338 (2013).

Source: Virtual fine rehabilitation in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome using low-cost devices

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[ARTICLE] Movement visualisation in virtual reality rehabilitation of the lower limb: a systematic review – Full Text



Virtual reality (VR) based applications play an increasing role in motor rehabilitation. They provide an interactive and individualized environment in addition to increased motivation during motor tasks as well as facilitating motor learning through multimodal sensory information. Several previous studies have shown positive effect of VR-based treatments for lower extremity motor rehabilitation in neurological conditions, but the characteristics of these VR applications have not been systematically investigated. The visual information on the user’s movement in the virtual environment, also called movement visualisation (MV), is a key element of VR-based rehabilitation interventions. The present review proposes categorization of Movement Visualisations of VR-based rehabilitation therapy for neurological conditions and also summarises current research in lower limb application.


A systematic search of literature on VR-based intervention for gait and balance rehabilitation in neurological conditions was performed in the databases namely; MEDLINE (Ovid), AMED, EMBASE, CINAHL, and PsycInfo. Studies using non-virtual environments or applications to improve cognitive function, activities of daily living, or psychotherapy were excluded. The VR interventions of the included studies were analysed on their MV.


In total 43 publications were selected based on the inclusion criteria. Seven distinct MV groups could be differentiated: indirect MV (N = 13), abstract MV (N = 11), augmented reality MV (N = 9), avatar MV (N = 5), tracking MV (N = 4), combined MV (N = 1), and no MV (N = 2). In two included articles the visualisation conditions included different MV groups within the same study. Additionally, differences in motor performance could not be analysed because of the differences in the study design. Three studies investigated different visualisations within the same MV group and hence limited information can be extracted from one study.


The review demonstrates that individuals’ movements during VR-based motor training can be displayed in different ways. Future studies are necessary to fundamentally explore the nature of this VR information and its effect on motor outcome.


Virtual reality (VR) in neurorehabilitation has emerged as a fairly recent approach that shows great promise to enhance the integration of virtual limbs in one`s body scheme [1] and motor learning in general [2]. Virtual Rehabilitation is a “group [of] all forms of clinical intervention (physical, occupational, cognitive, or psychological) that are based on, or augmented by, the use of Virtual Reality, augmented reality and computing technology. The term applies equally to interventions done locally, or at a distance (tele-rehabilitation)” [3]. The main objectives of intervention for facilitating motor learning within this definition are to (1) provide repetitive and customized high intensity training, (2) relay back information on patients’ performance via multimodal feedback, and (3) improve motivation [24]. VR therapies or interventions are based on real-time motion tracking and computer graphic technologies displaying the patients’ behaviour during a task in a virtual environment.

The interaction of the user and Virtual environment can be described as a perception and action loop [5]. This motor performance is displayed in the virtual environment and subsequently, the system provides multimodal feedback related to movement execution. Through external (e.g. vision) and internal (proprioception) senses the on-line sensory feedback is integrated into the patient’s mental representation. If necessary, the motor plan is corrected in order to achieve the given goal [5].

A previous Cochrane Review from Laver, George, Thomas, Deutsch, and Crotty [2] on Virtual Reality for stroke rehabilitation showed positive effects of VR intervention for motor rehabilitation in people post-stroke. However, grouped analysis from this review on recommendation for VR intervention provides inconclusive evidence. The author further comments that “[…] virtual reality interventions may vary greatly […], it is unclear what characteristics of the intervention are most important” ([2], p. 14).

Virtual rehabilitation system provides three different types of information to the patient: movement visualisation, performance feedback and context information [6]. During a motor task the patient’s movements are captured and represented in the virtual environment (movement visualisation). According to the task success, information about the accomplished goal or a required movement alteration is transmitted through one or several sensory modalities (performance feedback). Finally, these two VR features are embedded in a virtual world (context information) that can vary from a very realistic to an abstract, unrealistic or reduced, technical environment.

Performance feedback often relies on theories of motor learning and is probably the most studied information type within VR-based motor rehabilitation. Moreover, context information is primarily not designed with a therapeutic purpose. Movement observation, however, plays an important role for central sensory stimulation therapies, such as mirror therapy or mental training. The observation or imagination of body movements facilitates motor recovery [789] and provides new possibilities for cortical reorganization and enhancement of functional mobility. Thus, it appears that movement visualisation may also play an important role in motor rehabilitation [101112], although this aspect is yet to be systematically investigated [13].

The main goal of the present review is to identify various movement visualisation groups in VR-based motor interventions for lower extremities, by means of a systematic literature search. Secondarily, the included studies are further analysed for their effect on motor learning. This will help guide future research in rehabilitation using VR.

An interim analysis of the review published in 2013 showed six MV groups for upper and lower extremity training and additional two MV groups directed only towards lower extremity training. In this paper, we analysed only studies involving lower limb training, leading to a revision and expansion of the previously published MV groups findings [131415].

Continue —> Movement visualisation in virtual reality rehabilitation of the lower limb: a systematic review | BioMedical Engineering OnLine | Full Text

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[WEB SITE] The Rehabilitation Gaming System

slideshow 1RGS is a highly innovative Virtual Reality (VR) tool for the rehabilitation of deficits that occur after brain lesions and has been successfully used for the rehabilitation of the upper extremities after stroke.
The RGS is based on the neurobiological considerations that plasticity of the brain remains  throughout life and therefore can be utilized to achieve functional reorganization of the brain areas affected by stroke. This can be realized by means of activation of secondary motor areas such as the so called mirror neurons system.

RGS deploys a deficit oriented training approach. Specifically, while training with RGS the patient is playing individualized games where movement execution is combined with the observation of correlated actions performed by a virtual body. The system optimizes the user’s training by analyzing the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the user’s performance. This warranties a detailed assessment of the deficits of the patient and their recovery dynamics.

Key articles and Recent publications

also see

Source: The Rehabilitation Gaming System | Rehabilitation Gaming System

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[Research Poster] Upper Limb Virtual Reality Training Provides Increased Activity Compared With Conventional Training for Severely Affected Subacute Patients After Stroke

To compare amount of activity of virtual reality (VR) and conventional task-oriented training (CT).

Source: Upper Limb Virtual Reality Training Provides Increased Activity Compared With Conventional Training for Severely Affected Subacute Patients After Stroke – Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

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[OPINION ARTICLE] Enhancing Our Lives with Immersive Virtual Reality – Full Text


Virtual reality (VR) started about 50 years ago in a form we would recognize today [stereo head-mounted display (HMD), head tracking, computer graphics generated images] – although the hardware was completely different. In the 1980s and 1990s, VR emerged again based on a different generation of hardware (e.g., CRT displays rather than vector refresh, electromagnetic tracking instead of mechanical). This reached the attention of the public, and VR was hailed by many engineers, scientists, celebrities, and business people as the beginning of a new era, when VR would soon change the world for the better. Then, VR disappeared from public view and was rumored to be “dead.” In the intervening 25 years a huge amount of research has nevertheless been carried out across a vast range of applications – from medicine to business, from psychotherapy to industry, from sports to travel. Scientists, engineers, and people working in industry carried on with their research and applications using and exploring different forms of VR, not knowing that actually the topic had already passed away.

The purpose of this article is to survey a range of VR applications where there is some evidence for, or at least debate about, its utility, mainly based on publications in peer-reviewed journals. Of course not every type of application has been covered, nor every scientific paper (about 186,000 papers in Google Scholar): in particular, in this review we have not covered applications in psychological or medical rehabilitation. The objective is that the reader becomes aware of what has been accomplished in VR, where the evidence is weaker or stronger, and what can be done. We start in Section 1 with an outline of what VR is and the major conceptual framework used to understand what happens when people experience it – the concept of “presence.” In Section 2, we review some areas where VR has been used in science – mostly psychology and neuroscience, the area of scientific visualization, and some remarks about its use in education and surgical training. In Section 3, we discuss how VR has been used in sports and exercise. In Section 4, we survey applications in social psychology and related areas – how VR has been used to throw light on some social phenomena, and how it can be used to tackle experimentally areas that cannot be studied experimentally in real life. We conclude with how it has been used in the preservation of and access to cultural heritage. In Section 5, we present the domain of moral behavior, including an example of how it might be used to train professionals such as medical doctors when confronting serious dilemmas with patients. In Section 6, we consider how VR has been and might be used in various aspects of travel, collaboration, and industry. In Section 7, we consider mainly the use of VR in news presentation and also discuss different types of VR. In the concluding Section 8, we briefly consider new ideas that have recently emerged – an impossible task since during the short time we have written this page even newer ideas have emerged! And, we conclude with some general considerations and speculations.

Throughout and wherever possible we have stressed novel applications and approaches and how the real power of VR is not necessarily to produce a faithful reproduction of “reality” but rather that it offers the possibility to step outside of the normal bounds of reality and realize goals in a totally new and unexpected way. We hope that our article will provoke readers to think as paradigm changers, and advance VR to realize different worlds that might have a positive impact on the lives of millions of people worldwide, and maybe even help a little in saving the planet.

Continue —> Frontiers | Enhancing Our Lives with Immersive Virtual Reality | Virtual Environments

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[ARTICLE] Effects of Virtual Reality Exercise Program on Balance, Emotion and Quality of Life in Patients with Cognitive Decline



In this study, we investigated the effectiveness of a 12-week virtual reality exercise program using the Nintendo Wii console (Wii) in improving balance, emotion, and quality of life among patients with cognitive decline.


The study included 30 patients with cognitive decline (12 female, 18 male) who were randomly assigned to an experimental (n=15) and control groups (n=15). All subjects performed a traditional cognitive rehabilitation program and the experimental group performed additional three 40-minute virtual reality based video game (Wii) sessions per week for 12 weeks. The berg balance scale (BBS) was used to assess balance abilities. The short form geriatric depression scale-Korean (GDS-K) and the Korean version of quality of life-Alzheimer’s disease (KQOL-AD) scale were both used to assess life quality in patients. Statistical significance was tested within and between groups before and after treatment, using Wilcoxon signed rank and Mann-Whitney u-tests.


After 36 training sessions, there were significant beneficial effects of the virtual reality game exercise on balance (BBS), GDS-K, and KQOL-AD in the experimental group when compared to the control group. No significant difference was observed within the control group.


These findings demonstrate that a virtual reality-training program could improve the outcomes in terms of balance, depression, and quality of life in patients with cognitive decline. Long-term follow-ups and further studies of more efficient virtual reality training programs are needed.


Dementia is a degenerative disease of the nervous system, which is prevalent in the elderly population. It involves deterioration in cognitive function and ability to perform everyday activities. As the early diagnosis and treatment of dementia is delayed, its economic costs and burden on families and society are gradually increasing and becoming a social problem.1 Older people with dementia have an increased risk of falls and lower levels of everyday activities being performed due to cognitive decline and decreased muscle mass. This is a result of reduced physical activity, which further deteriorates their quality of life.2 Therapeutic interventions to improve cognitive function and to increase activities of daily living (ADL) in patients with dementia are divided into pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments. For pharmacological treatment, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonists are the most widely used in clinical practice.3 However, because pharmacological treatment alone cannot prevent the progression of cognitive decline and ADL deterioration in patients with dementia, various non-pharmacological treatments including cognitive therapy or physical exercise are used as additional treatments.4
Recent reports have stated that regular exercise was effective in delaying cognitive impairment in people with dementia.5 In a three-year follow-up study of healthy older people, a combination of cognitive activity and physical activity was found to be effective in reducing the risk for mild cognitive impairment.6 However, physical activity was found to be more important than cognitive activity in order to further reduce the risk for cognitive decline.6 When older people with dementia performed regular physical exercise, there was an improvement in the mini-mental state examination (MMSE) score.7 Physical exercise prevented the deterioration of ADL.8 The mechanism of the benefit of physical exercise on patients with dementia is thought to be that it can facilitate neuroplasticity, promote injury recovery mechanisms at a molecular level and facilitate self-healing of the brain through its neuroprotective effect.9
However, unless individuals perform exercise in the long run, such beneficial effects of exercise may wear off, leading to impaired brain function and worsened disease.10 Therefore, patients with dementia should continue exercise under the supervision of professional physical therapists in order to stop the progression of cognitive impairment for a long time. In order to achieve this, it is required to keep patients interested in the exercise therapy allowing them to maintain adherence. However, it is difficult to execute exercise treatment continuously in patients with dementia because of space, time, and cost issues in Korea. Patients get easily bored and tired of passive and simply repetitive forms of exercise treatment. In general, 20-50% of older people who start an exercise program will stop within six months.11 Patients with dementia are expected to be more likely to discontinue exercise program due to lowered levels of patience and self-regulation abilities. Therefore, exercise programs utilizing media, including games, attempt to keep patients interested in exercise programs and to improve therapeutic effects. With recent advances in scientific technologies and computer programs, exercise and rehabilitation interventions using virtual reality are being introduced in the medical field.12 Virtual reality refers to a computer-generated environment that allows users to have experiences similar to those in the real world. It is an interactive simulation characterized by technology that provides reality through various feedbacks.13 While performing predetermined tasks such as playing a game in virtual reality, users manipulate objects as if they were real and can control their movements by giving and receiving various feedbacks via numerous senses such as sight and hearing.14
The virtual reality-enhanced exercise consisting of exercise with computer-simulated environments and interactive videogame features allows patients to enjoy performing tasks, encourages competition, and creates motivation and interest in their treatment.15 Participation in a virtual reality-enhanced exercise was reported to lead to higher exercise frequency and intensity and enhanced health outcomes when compared with traditional exercise.16
However, despite these advantages, conventional virtual reality systems could not be widely available for patients in clinical settings due to several limitations including high costs and a large size.17 Therefore, it is necessary to develop virtual reality exercise programs that are easy to follow in hospitals and at home. As an alternative, the use of computer-based individual training programmes is becoming increasingly popular due to the low cost, independence and ease of use in the home. One such system that is increasing in popularity for use in exercise training is the Nintendo Wii (Wii; Nintendo Inc., Kyoto, Japan) personal game, which became commercially available. Wii is a video gaming console with a simple method, as its virtual reality system is implemented via a television monitor. It combine physical exercise with computer-simulated environments and interactive videogame features. Because the Wii console is inexpensive and small in size, it is easy to install or move it in hospitals or at home. This gaming console is designed to be controlled using a wireless controller, allowing user to interact with his/her own avatar, which is displayed on the screen through a movement sensing system. The controller is provided with an acceleration sensor that responds to acceleration changes recognizing direction and velocity changes.18 Wii-balance board is being used when playing a Wii Fit game. It is a force plate collecting movement information in the center of pressure of the standing user, enabling reflection of movements in a virtual environment on the monitor and thus constantly resending visual feedback to the user. Through this process, the user can adjust his/her postural responses. Studies have shown that the Wii balance board can be helpful in postural control training.19 Because Wii is a typical example of virtual reality applications and is simple, inexpensive, and easily accessible, Wii is expected to create interest among patients encouraging them to put more efforts in exercise via games and thus augmenting effects of the treatment.
Domestic studies on the use of Wii have reported its effects on the upper extremity function, visual perception and sense of balance in chronic stroke patients,20 spinal cord injury patients,21 Parkinson’s disease patients,22 and multiple sclerosis patients.23 However, there have been only a few controlled research studies about the effects of Wii on patients with cognitive decline. The present study aimed to analyze effects of virtual reality exercise program on balance function, emotions, and quality of life (QOL) in patients with cognitive decline.

Continue —> Effects of Virtual Reality Exercise Program on Balance, Emotion and Quality of Life in Patients with Cognitive Decline – ScienceCentral



Figure 1 The level of satisfaction about Wii game for dementia patients (Number=%).

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[ARTICLE] The effectiveness of reinforced feedback in virtual environment in the first 12 months after stroke – Full Text HTML/PDF

Background and purpose: Reinforced feedback in virtual environment (RFVE) therapy is emerging as an innovative method in rehabilitation, which may be advantageous in the treatment of the affected arm after stroke. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of assisted motor training in a virtual environment for the treatment of the upper extremity (UE) after stroke compared to traditional neuromotor rehabilitation (TNR), studying also if differences exist related to the type of stroke (haemorrhagic or ischaemic).
Material and methods: Eighty patients affected by a stroke (48 ischaemic and 32 haemorrhagic) that occurred at least 1 year before were enrolled. The clinical assessment comprising the Fugl-Meyer UE (F-M UE), modified Ashworth (Bohannon and Smith) and Functional Independence Measure scale (FIM) was administered before and after the treatment.
Results: A statistically significant difference between RFVE and TNR groups (Mann-Whitney U-test) was observed in the clinical outcomes of F-M UE and FIM (both p < 0.001), but not Ashworth (p = 0.053). The outcomes of F-M UE and FIM improved in the RFVE haemorrhagic group and in the TNR haemorrhagic group with a significant difference between groups (both p < 0.001), but not for Ashworth (p = 0.651). Comparing the RFVE ischaemic group to the TNR ischaemic group, statistically significant differences emerged in F-M UE (p < 0.001), FIM (p < 0.001), and Ashworth (p = 0.036).
Conclusions: The RFVE therapy in combination with TNR showed better improvements compared to the TNR treatment only. The RFVE therapy combined with the TNR treatment was more effective than the TNR double training, in both post-ischaemic and post-haemorrhagic groups. We observed improvements in both groups of patients: post-haemorrhagic and post-ischaemic stroke after RFVE training.
Stroke is one of the main causes of death and disability
in all classes and ethnic origins worldwide. Disability and
motor deficit could be particularly evident in upper
extremities. Indeed, the loss of mobility of the upper
extremity is a major source of impairment in neuro-
muscular disorders, frequently preventing effective oc-
cupational performance and autonomy in daily life [1].
Recent studies demonstrated that the traditional con-
cept of one-to-one rehabilitation [2], where the physi-
cal therapist (or more frequently several ones) interacts
directly with a single patient, could be advantageously
implemented with the use of strategies based on speci –
fic kinematic feedback to improve the motor performance
[3-7]. Patients affected by a stroke represent a consi –
derable number among those patients suffering from
nervous system disorders who need rehabilitation. Epi-
demiological data indicate a mortality rate of 30% in the
first month after stroke independently from the type of
cerebrovascular accident, while 10% of patients were dis-
charged from the hospital without serious functional
impairment [8]. At least 60% of patients affected by stroke
present severely reduced ability to perform activities of
daily living (ADL), with persistent symptoms of focal
brain lesion [1,8,9].
Reinforced feedback in virtual environment (RFVE)
for arm motor training, as demonstrated in previous stud-
ies [3,4,6,10-16], represents a possibility in the field of
the motor learning based technique for the upper limb.
The treatment in the virtual environment with augmented
feedback promotes learning in normal subjects and in
some post-stroke patients with motor deficit involving the
upper extremity [3,16,17]. After a stroke, patients can
improve movement ability with regular, intensive and su-
pervised training [2,12,18-20].
The central nervous system (CNS) shows regene-
ra tive capacities in post-stroke patients [21,22]. It is also
noted that the plasticity of the CNS, thus its adaptabi –
lity to natural developmental changes, is maintained
throughout all the life of a subject regardless of age [23].
Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and transcranial
magnetic stimulation tests in humans provide evidence
for functional adaptation of the motor cortex following
injury [1,21,24-27]. Neuroimaging has shown evidence
of cortical plasticity after task-oriented motor exercises
[24,26,28]. Furthermore, many studies have demonstra –
ted that neuroplasticity can occur even in the chronic phase
after stroke [1,25,29].
Our study aims to investigate whether the repetition
of tasks (intended as oriented movements of the upper
extremity performed in interaction with a virtual envi-
ronment) could improve motor function in post-ischaemic
and post-haemorrhagic stroke subjects with hemipare-
sis, in comparison to the traditional neuromotor reha-
bilitation (TNR) treatment. The first aim of the study
was to determine the effectiveness of RFVE therapy com-
bined with TNR training compared to the double TNR
in the treatment of patients after stroke. The second ob-
jective was to study the effect of the RFVE therapy,
depending on the kind of stroke (haemorrhagic, ischae –
mic), between patients undergoing the RFVE and
TNR therapy compared to the double TNR training.

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