Virtual Reality Telerehabilitation for Postural Instability in Parkinson's Disease: A Multicenter, Single-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial

Biomed Res Int. 2017:2017:7962826. doi: 10.1155/2017/7962826. Epub 2017 Nov 26.


Introduction: Telerehabilitation enables patients to access remote rehabilitation services for patient-physiotherapist videoconferencing in their own homes. Home-based virtual reality (VR) balance training has been shown to reduce postural instability in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). The primary aim was to compare improvements in postural stability after remotely supervised in-home VR balance training and in-clinic sensory integration balance training (SIBT).

Methods: In this multicenter study, 76 PD patients (modified Hoehn and Yahr stages 2.5-3) were randomly assigned to receive either in-home VR telerehabilitation (n = 38) or in-clinic SIBT (n = 38) in 21 sessions of 50 minutes each, 3 days/week for 7 consecutive weeks. VR telerehabilitation consisted of graded exergames using the Nintendo Wii Fit system; SIBT included exercises to improve postural stability. Patients were evaluated before treatment, after treatment, and at 1-month follow-up.

Results: Analysis revealed significant between-group differences in improvement on the Berg Balance Scale for the VR telerehabilitation group (p = 0.04) and significant Time × Group interactions in the Dynamic Gait Index (p = 0.04) for the in-clinic group. Both groups showed differences in all outcome measures over time, except for fall frequency. Cost comparison yielded between-group differences in treatment and equipment costs.

Conclusions: VR is a feasible alternative to in-clinic SIBT for reducing postural instability in PD patients having a caregiver.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Physical Therapists
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Telerehabilitation / methods*
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Virtual Reality