The application of virtual reality to home-based rehabilitation for children and adolescents with cerebral palsy: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Physiother Theory Pract. 2024 Jul;40(7):1588-1608. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2023.2184220. Epub 2023 Feb 27.


Background: Home-based rehabilitation enables children and families to participate in therapeutic activities built into their daily routines without the barriers of arrangement and transportation to facilities. Virtual reality is an emerging technology which has shown promising outcomes in rehabilitation.

Purpose: This systematic review aims to examine the feasibility and effects of virtual reality-enhanced home rehabilitation on Body functions and structures, Activity, and Participation outcomes in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy.

Methods: Interventional studies were searched across five biomedical databases on November 26, 2022. Two independent reviewers conducted study selection, data extraction, and quality assessment. The Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale and National Institutes of Health Study Quality Assessment Tools were used to evaluate the quality of included studies. Meta-analysis was performed to examine the effects of the intervention.

Results: Eighteen studies were included in this review. Home-based virtual reality rehabilitation appears feasible with effects on upper extremity and gross motor function, strength, bone density, cognition, balance, walking, daily activity performance, and participation. Meta-analyses revealed significant improvements in hand function (SMD = 0.41, p= .003), gross motor function (SMD = 0.56, p= .0002), and walking capacity (SMD = 0.44, p= .01) following home-based virtual reality intervention.

Conclusion: Home-based virtual reality may serve as an adjunct to conventional facility-based therapy to promote participation in therapeutic exercises and maximize rehabilitation outcomes. Further properly designed randomized controlled trials using valid and reliable outcome measures with adequately powered sample sizes are warranted to enhance the current body of evidence using home-based virtual reality in cerebral palsy rehabilitation.

Keywords: Virtual reality; cerebral palsy; exercise; home; simulation.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cerebral Palsy* / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Palsy* / rehabilitation
  • Child
  • Home Care Services
  • Humans
  • Virtual Reality*