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Active Video Gaming for Children with Cerebral Palsy: Does a Clinic-Based Virtual Reality Component Offer an Additive Benefit? A Pilot Study

Levac, D and McCormick, A and Levin, MF and Brien, M and Mills, R and Miller, E and Sveistrup, H (2017) Active Video Gaming for Children with Cerebral Palsy: Does a Clinic-Based Virtual Reality Component Offer an Additive Benefit? A Pilot Study. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 38 (1). pp. 74-87. ISSN 0194-2638

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Abstract

Aims: To compare changes in gross motor skills and functional mobility between ambulatory children with cerebral palsy who underwent a 1-week clinic-based virtual reality intervention (VR) followed by a 6-week, therapist-monitored home active video gaming (AVG) program and children who completed only the 6-week home AVG program. Methods: Pilot non-randomized controlled trial. Five children received 1 hour of VR training for 5 days followed by a 6-week home AVG program, supervised online by a physical therapist. Six children completed only the 6-week home AVG program. The Gross Motor Function Measure Challenge Module (GMFM-CM) and Six Minute Walk Test (6MWT) evaluated change. Results: There were no significant differences between groups. The home AVG-only group demonstrated a statistically and clinically significant improvement in GMFM-CM scores following the 6-week AVG intervention (median difference 4.5 points, interquartile range [IQR] 4.75, p = 0.042). The VR + AVG group demonstrated a statistically and clinically significant decrease in 6MWT distance following the intervention (median decrease 68.2 m, IQR 39.7 m, p = 0.043). All 6MWT scores returned to baseline at 2 months post-intervention. Conclusion: Neither intervention improved outcomes in this small sample. Online mechanisms to support therapist-child communication for exercise progression were insufficient to individualize exercise challenge.

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