Efficacy of Virtual Reality Combined With Real Instrument Training for Patients With Stroke: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2019 Aug;100(8):1400-1408. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2019.03.013. Epub 2019 Apr 16.


Objective: To investigate the efficacy of real instrument training in virtual reality (VR) environment for improving upper-extremity and cognitive function after stroke.

Design: Single-blind, randomized trial.

Setting: Medical center.

Participants: Enrolled subjects (N=31) were first-episode stroke, assessed for a period of 6 months after stroke onset; age between 20 and 85 years; patients with unilateral paralysis and a Fugl-Meyer assessment upper-extremity scale score >18.

Interventions: Both groups were trained 30 minutes per day, 3 days a week, for 6 weeks, with the experimental group performing the VR combined real instrument training and the control group performing conventional occupational therapy.

Main outcome measures: Manual Muscle Test, modified Ashworth scale, Fugl-Meyer upper motor scale, hand grip, Box and Block, 9-Hole Peg Test (9-HPT), Korean Mini-Mental State Examination, and Korean-Montreal Cognitive Assessment.

Results: The experimental group showed greater therapeutic effects in a time-dependent manner than the control group, especially on the motor power of wrist extension, spasticity of elbow flexion and wrist extension, and Box and Block Tests. Patients in the experimental group, but not the control group, also showed significant improvements on the lateral, palmar, and tip pinch power, Box and Block, and 9-HPTs from before to immediately after training. Significantly greater improvements in the tip pinch power immediately after training and spasticity of elbow flexion 4 weeks after training completion were noted in the experimental group.

Conclusions: VR combined real instrument training was effective at promoting recovery of patients' upper-extremity and cognitive function, and thus may be an innovative translational neurorehabilitation strategy after stroke.

Keywords: Cognition; Rehabilitation; Stroke; Upper extremity; Virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Recovery of Function
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stroke Rehabilitation / methods*
  • Upper Extremity / physiopathology*
  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy*

Associated data

  • CRiS/KCT0002118