Therapeutic effects of virtual reality video gaming on functional mobility, balance, and gait speed in individuals with tropical spastic paraparesis: A randomized crossover clinical trial

Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 2021 Jan 29;54:e06232020. doi: 10.1590/0037-8682-0623-2020. eCollection 2021.


Introduction: Individuals with human T-cell lymphotropic virus 1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) experience sensorimotor alterations, which can affect functional performance. Virtual reality (VR) videogaming is a therapeutic option, though there is scarce evidence for its use in this population. We aimed to investigate the therapeutic effects of a VR video game on functional mobility, balance, and gait speed in individuals with HAM/TSP.

Methods: We conducted a blinded, crossover clinical trial comprising 29 individuals with HAM/TSP and randomized them into two groups: (1) early therapy: rehabilitative protocol started immediately after the initial evaluation and (2) late therapy: rehabilitative protocol started 10 weeks later. We assessed all participants for balance using the Berg Balance Scale (BBS) scores, functional mobility using the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test, and gait speed using video camera and CvMob software. Differences were considered significant if p<0.05.

Results: The early therapy group individuals presented with higher BBS scores (p=0.415), less TUG times (p=0.290), and greater gait speed (p=0.296) than the late therapy group individuals.

Conclusions: VR videogaming is a useful option for rehabilitative therapy in individuals with HAM/TSP; it positively affects balance, functional mobility, and gait speed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1*
  • Humans
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic* / therapy
  • Video Games*
  • Virtual Reality*
  • Walking Speed