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The Effects of a 5-Day Virtual-Reality Based Exercise Program on Kinematics and Postural Muscle Activity in Youth with Cerebral Palsy

Mills, R and Levac, D and Sveistrup, H (2018) The Effects of a 5-Day Virtual-Reality Based Exercise Program on Kinematics and Postural Muscle Activity in Youth with Cerebral Palsy. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 39 (4). pp. 388-403. ISSN 0194-2638

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Abstract

Aims: To determine the effects of a 5-day virtual reality (VR)-based intervention on anticipatory and reactive mechanisms of postural control in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy (CP). Methods: Eleven youth with CP (GMFCS levels I and II), ages 7–17, were allocated to intervention (N = 5) and control (N = 6) groups. Both groups attended balance assessment sessions 1 week apart. Participants in the intervention group received 1-hour one-on-one physiotherapist-supervised VR balance games for 5 consecutive days between assessments. For balance assessments, participants stood erect with eyes open on a movable platform that translated progressively through four speeds in the anterior/posterior direction. Participants performed two trials each of experimenter-triggered and self-triggered perturbations. Postural muscle activity and kinematics were recorded. The Anchoring Index and body segment cross-correlations were calculated as an indication of body stabilization, and the number of steps taken to regain balance/avoid falling were counted. Mann–Whitney U tests for between group differences in change scores were undertaken with an accepted significance level of 0.01. Results: No consistent differences in change scores were identified between groups. Conclusions: There was no effect of a 5-day VR-based intervention on postural control mechanisms used in response to oscillating platform perturbations. Subsequent studies will further tailor VR interventions to patients’ functional balance needs.

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