Objective. To investigate the effectiveness of computerized virtual reality (VR) training of the hemiparetic hand of patients poststroke using a system that provides repetitive motor reeducation and skill reacquisition. Methods. Eight subjects in the chronic phase poststroke participated in a 3-week program using their hemiparetic hand in a series of interactive computer games for 13 days of training, weekend breaks, and pretests and posttests. Each subject trained for about 2 to 2.5 h per day. Outcome measures consisted of changes in the computerized measures of thumb and finger range of motion, thumb and finger velocity, fractionation (the ability to move fingers independently), thumb and finger strength, the Jebsen Test of Hand Function, and a Kinematic reach to grasp test. Results. Subjects as a group improved in fractionation of the fingers, thumb and finger range of motion, and thumb and finger speed, retaining those gains at the 1-week retention test. Transfer of these improvements was demonstrated through changes in the Jebsen Test of Hand Function and a decrease after the therapy in the overall time from hand peak velocity to the moment when an object was lifted from the table. Conclusions. It is difficult in current service delivery models to provide the intensity of practice that appears to be needed to effect neural reorganization and functional changes poststroke. Computerized exercise systems may be a way to maximize both the patients' and the clinicians' time. The data in this study add support to the proposal to explore novel technologies for incorporation into current practice.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology
- Motor learning
- Virtual reality