Virtual Reality in Upper Extremity Rehabilitation of Stroke Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial

J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2018 Dec;27(12):3473-3478. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2018.08.007. Epub 2018 Sep 5.


Objective: Virtual reality game system is one of novel approaches, which can improve hemiplegic extremity functions of stroke patients. We aimed to evaluate the effect of the Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect video game system on upper limb motor functions for subacute stroke patients.

Methods: The study included 42 stroke patients of which 35 (19 Virtual reality group, 16 control group) completed the study. All patients received 60 minutes of conventional therapy for upper extremity, 5 times per-week for 4 weeks. Virtual reality group additionally received Xbox Kinect game system 30 minutes per-day. Patients were evaluated prior to the rehabilitation and at the end of 4 weeks. Box&Block Test, Functional independence measure self-care score, Brunnstorm stage and Fugl-Meyer upper extremity motor function scale were used as outcome measures.

Results: The Brunnstrom stages and the scores on the Fugl-Meyer upper extremity, Box&Block Test and Functional independence measure improved significantly from baseline to post-treatment in both the experimental and the control groups. The Brunnstrom stage-upper extremity and Box&Block Test gain for the experimental group were significantly higher compared to the control group, while the Brunnstrom stage-hand, the Functional independence measure gain and Fugl-Meyer gain were similar between the groups.

Conclusions: We found evidence that kinect-based game system in addition to conventional therapy may have supplemental benefit for stroke patients. However, for virtual reality game systems to enter the routine practice of stroke rehabilitation, randomized controlled clinical trials with longer follow-up periods and larger sample sizes are needed especially to determine an optimal duration and intensity of the treatment.

Keywords: Hemiplegia; stroke rehabilitation; upper extremity; virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Hemiplegia / etiology
  • Hemiplegia / physiopathology
  • Hemiplegia / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recovery of Function
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke Rehabilitation* / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Upper Extremity* / physiopathology
  • Video Games
  • Virtual Reality*