Background: We hypothesize that the integration of virtual reality (VR) with robot assisted rehabilitation could be successful if applied to children with hemiparetic CP. The combined benefits of increased attention provided by VR and the larger training stimulus afforded by adaptive robotics may increase the beneficial effects of these two approaches synergistically. This paper will describe the NJIT-RAVR system, which combines adaptive robotics with complex VR simulations for the rehabilitation of upper extremity impairments and function in children with CP and examine the feasibility of this system in the context of a two subject training study. Methods: The NJIT-RAVR system consists of the Haptic Master, a 6 degrees of freedom, admittance controlled robot and a suite of rehabilitation simulations that provide adaptive algorithms for the Haptic Master, allowing the user to interact with rich virtual environments. Two children, a ten year old boy and a seven year old girl, both with spastic hemiplegia secondary to Cerebral Palsy were recruited from the outpatient center of a comprehensive pediatric rehabilitation facility. Subjects performed a battery of clinical testing and kinematic measurements of reaching collected by the NJIT-RAVR system. Subjects trained with the NJIT-RAVR System for one hour, 3 days a week for three weeks. The subjects played a combination of four or five simulations depending on their therapeutic goals, tolerances and preferences. Games were modified to increase difficulty in order to challenge the subjects as their performance improved. The testing battery was repeated following the training period. Results: Both participants completed 9 hours of training in 3 weeks. No untoward events occurred and no adverse responses to treatment or complaints of cyber sickness were reported. One participant showed improvements in overall performance on the functional aspects of the testing battery. The second subject made improvements in upper extremity active range of motion and in kinematic measures of reaching movements. Conclusion: We feel that this study establishes the feasibility of integrating robotics and rich virtual environments to address functional limitations and decreased motor performance in children with mild to moderate cerebral palsy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Informatics