A virtual reality (VR) based rehabilitation that gives real-time feedback can help improve movement in people with Cerebral Palsy.
The study is entitled “Immediate effects of immersive biofeedback on gait in children with cerebral palsy”. Gait, which refers to the manner of walking of a person, is often impaired in people with neurological disorders. Because it affects the quality of life, rehabilitation can be prescribed.
Gait training, which involves repetition of motor tasks that allow patients to develop skills to improve their gait. It has proved to be beneficial in restructuring brain pathways associated with motor skills, but it requires a significant amount of repetition. Because of this, it can become laborious for patients, which is why there have been studies investigating the use of VR.
The idea is to allow the patient to experience a more stimulating environment, allowing them to tackle more challenging tasks in a safe situation.
In the study, an avatar is used to represent the person with Cerebral Palsy and reacts to their movement in real-time.
Biofeedback is multiple forms of feedback, which in this case includes visual, auditory, and touch feedback. The biofeedback in the study involved a series of two-minute trials of step length, knee extension and ankle power in 22 children with Cerebral Palsy.
The children walked on a treadmill with virtual reality environments and then challenged to improve specific elements of their gait.
The results showed that they were able to improve their gait in immediate response to biofeedback. Specifically, the children were able to reach increases in ankle power generation of 37.7 per cent, an increase in step length of 12.7 per cent, and an improvement in knee extension of 7.4 degrees.