In-Home Virtual Reality Videogame Telerehabilitation in Adolescents With Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy


      Golomb MR, McDonald BC, Warden SJ, Yonkman J, Saykin AJ, Shirley B, Huber M, Rabin B, AbdelBaky M, Nwosu ME, Barkat-Masih M, Burdea GC. In-home virtual reality videogame telerehabilitation in adolescents with hemiplegic cerebral palsy.


      To investigate whether in-home remotely monitored virtual reality videogame-based telerehabilitation in adolescents with hemiplegic cerebral palsy can improve hand function and forearm bone health, and demonstrate alterations in motor circuitry activation.


      A 3-month proof-of-concept pilot study.


      Virtual reality videogame-based rehabilitation systems were installed in the homes of 3 participants and networked via secure Internet connections to the collaborating engineering school and children's hospital.


      Adolescents (N=3) with severe hemiplegic cerebral palsy.


      Participants were asked to exercise the plegic hand 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week using a sensor glove fitted to the plegic hand and attached to a remotely monitored videogame console installed in their home. Games were custom developed, focused on finger movement, and included a screen avatar of the hand.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Standardized occupational therapy assessments, remote assessment of finger range of motion (ROM) based on sensor glove readings, assessment of plegic forearm bone health with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of hand grip task.


      All 3 adolescents showed improved function of the plegic hand on occupational therapy testing, including increased ability to lift objects, and improved finger ROM based on remote measurements. The 2 adolescents who were most compliant showed improvements in radial bone mineral content and area in the plegic arm. For all 3 adolescents, fMRI during grip task contrasting the plegic and nonplegic hand showed expanded spatial extent of activation at posttreatment relative to baseline in brain motor circuitry (eg, primary motor cortex and cerebellum).


      Use of remotely monitored virtual reality videogame telerehabilitation appears to produce improved hand function and forearm bone health (as measured by DXA and pQCT) in adolescents with chronic disability who practice regularly. Improved hand function appears to be reflected in functional brain changes.

      Key Words

      List of Abbreviations:

      BMC (bone mineral content), CIMT (constraint-induced movement therapy), DXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry), FA (flip angle), fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), FOV (field of view), LSC (least significant change), MP-RAGE (magnetization prepared rapid acquisition gradient echo), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), NEX (number of excitations), pQCT (peripheral quantitative computed tomography), ROM (range of motion), TE (echo time), TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation), TR (repetition time), VR (virtual reality)
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