Thursday, January 26, 2006

Research: Virtual reality feedback aids walking for MS patients

I'm not sure exactly how this works, or who it works for, but it's way cool. Notice that it appears to improve walking speed and, to a lesser extent, stride length, even after the VR apparatus is switched off. For how long, I wonder?

Neurology. 2006 Jan 24;66(2):178-81.
Virtual reality cues for improvement of gait in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Baram Y, Miller A.

Department of Computer Science, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel.

OBJECTIVE: To study the effects of visual cues, provided through a portable visual-feedback virtual reality (VR) apparatus, on the walking abilities of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). METHODS: On-line (display-on) and residual short-term therapeutic effects on walking speed and stride length were measured in 16 randomly selected patients with gait disturbances predominantly due to cerebellar ataxia. RESULTS: Patients whose baseline walking speed (BWS) was below the median showed an average on-line improvement of 13.46% in their walking speed, while patients whose BWS was above the median improved their speed by 1.47%. The average short-term residual therapeutic improvement in walking speed was 24.49% in patients with BWS below the median, and 9.09% in patients with BWS above the median. Similar results were obtained for improvements in stride length. These results of improved functions in patients are particularly noteworthy when compared with the lack of change in healthy control subjects. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with multiple sclerosis showed improvement in walking abilities using virtual reality visual-feedback cues.

Link to abstract

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