Objective: To investigate the effect of virtual reality (VR) and a tetra-ataxiometric posturography (Tetrax) program on stroke patients with impaired standing balance.
Methods: Thirty acute stroke patients with impaired standing balance were recruited and randomly assigned to a VR, Tetrax, or control group. All patients received conventional balance training as a baseline; and VR and Tetrax patients received VR or Tetrax treatment, in addition. The primary outcome measures to evaluate the overall standing balance were the Berg Balance Scale (BBS) and the falling index (FI). The secondary outcome measures were the stability index (SI) and the weight distribution index (WDI), which were used to evaluate the balance status according to specific body positions. The FI, SI, and WDI were measured using the Tetrax instrument.
Results: The BBS and FI scores were improved in all groups, with no significant differences between groups. In open-eyed positions, the VR group showed significantly greater improvement in SI and WDI scores than the control group (p<0.017). In closed-eyed positions, the Tetrax group showed significantly greater improvement in SI and WDI scores than the control group (p<0.017).
Conclusion: The inclusion of VR and Tetrax programs did not lead to an overall benefit in balance. VR and Tetrax did, however, demonstrate a benefit in specific positions. A Tetrax program may benefit patients with abnormal proprioceptive function, whereas a VR program may benefit patients with normal sensory function.
Keywords: Feedback; Postural balance; Stroke; Virtual reality exposure therapy.