Effects of virtual reality in body oscillation and motor performance of children with cerebral palsy: A preliminary randomized controlled clinical trial

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 May:35:189-194. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2019.02.014. Epub 2019 Feb 25.


Background and purpose: Virtual reality is an adjuvant technique to rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy (CP). It has been gaining prominence in this field because of its accessibility and great levels of motivation it promotes in treatment. However, there is a lack of studies addressing the effects of virtual reality-based therapy on activity levels regarding postural stability, especially considering the level of evidence presented by studies addressing this issue. Therefore, we aim to evaluate the effects of intervention in body sway and gross motor function of children with CP using an active video game.

Materials and methods: In this blind randomized controlled trial, fifteen children with CP, Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) I-II, regularly attending conventional physical therapy programs, were randomly assigned to an intervention (IG:n = 7) or to a control group (CG:n = 8). In both groups, children remained attending conventional therapy. In addition, IG underwent intervention using an active video game twice a week for 45 min and eight weeks. Standing body sway was assessed using a force plate, and Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM) dimensions D (Standing) and E (Walking, Running and Jumping) were tested.

Results: Following the virtual reality-based intervention, the IG only showed significant improvements in the GMFM dimensions D (p = 0.021) and E (p = 0.008). Improvements were clinically significant (D = 10.8%; E = 14.0%). For the CG, no variable analyzed showed differences after eight weeks.

Conclusions: Intervention using an active video game is a promising tool that can improve the gross motor function of children with CP, GMFCS I-II.

Keywords: Active video game; Cerebral palsy; Intervention; Rehabilitation; Virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Motor Skills*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Running / physiology
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy / methods*
  • Walking / physiology