Impairments in cervical kinematics are common in patients with neck pain. A virtual reality (VR) device has potential to be effective in the management of these impairments. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of kinematic training (KT) with and without the use of an interactive VR device. In this assessor-blinded, allocation-concealed pilot clinical trial, 32 participants with chronic neck pain were randomised into the KT or kinematic plus VR training (KTVR) group. Both groups completed four to six training sessions comprising of similar KT activities such as active and quick head movements and fine head movement control and stability over five weeks. Only the KTVR group used the VR device. The primary outcome measures were neck disability index (NDI), cervical range of motion (ROM), head movement velocity and accuracy. Kinematic measures were collected using the VR system that was also used for training. Secondary measures included pain intensity, TAMPA scale of kinesiophobia, static and dynamic balance, global perceived effect and participant satisfaction. The results demonstrated significant (p < 0.05) improvements in NDI, ROM (rotation), velocity, and the step test in both groups post-intervention. At 3-month post-intervention, these improvements were mostly sustained; however there was no control group, which limits the interpretation of this. Between-group analysis showed a few specific differences including global perceived change that was greater in the KTVR group. This pilot study has provided directions and justification for future research exploring training using kinematic training and VR for those with neck pain in a larger cohort.
Keywords: Kinematics; Neck pain; RCT; Virtual reality.
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