Effect of virtual reality on upper extremity function in children with cerebral palsy: a meta-analysis

Pediatr Phys Ther. 2014 Fall;26(3):289-300. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000000046.


Purpose: To systematically examine the effect of virtual reality (VR) on upper extremity (UE) function in children with cerebral palsy (CP) and assess the association among VR effects and children's characteristics and an intervention protocol.

Method: A systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed, CINAHL, Cochrane, and PsycINFO up to June 2013. Research studies involving children with CP that used VR as the intervention method and UE outcome measures were included.

Results: The search yielded 14 research articles, including 3 randomized controlled trials and 11 case series. Overall, VR provided a strong effect size (d = 1.00) when comparing pre- and postintervention. In subgroup analyses, younger children receiving home-based or laboratory-based VR and using an engineer-built VR system showed better improvement.

Conclusions and implications: Virtual reality is a viable tool to improve UE function in children with CP. However, a more vigorous research design is needed to make a conclusive recommendation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Age Factors
  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Upper Extremity*
  • User-Computer Interface*