Background/purpose: Virtual reality has the advantage to provide rich sensory feedbacks for training balance function. This study tested if the home-based virtual reality balance training is more effective than the conventional home balance training in improving balance, walking, and quality of life in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD).
Methods: Twenty-three patients with idiopathic PD were recruited and underwent twelve 50-minute training sessions during the 6-week training period. The experimental group (n = 11) was trained with a custom-made virtual reality balance training system, and the control group (n = 12) was trained by a licensed physical therapist. Outcomes were measured at Week 0 (pretest), Week 6 (posttest), and Week 8 (follow-up). The primary outcome was the Berg Balance Scale. The secondary outcomes included the Dynamic Gait Index, timed Up-and-Go test, Parkinson's Disease Questionnaire, and the motor score of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale.
Results: The experimental and control groups were comparable at pretest. After training, both groups performed better in the Berg Balance Scale, Dynamic Gait Index, timed Up-and-Go test, and Parkinson's Disease Questionnaire at posttest and follow-up than at pretest. However, no significant differences were found between these two groups at posttest and follow-up.
Conclusion: This study did not find any difference between the effects of the home-based virtual reality balance training and conventional home balance training. The two training options were equally effective in improving balance, walking, and quality of life among community-dwelling patients with PD.
Keywords: Parkinson's disease; balance training; virtual reality.
Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.