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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015 Jul;96(7):1319-1328.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2015.02.032. Epub 2015 Apr 2.

Effectiveness of conventional versus virtual reality-based balance exercises in vestibular rehabilitation for unilateral peripheral vestibular loss: results of a randomized controlled trial.

Author information

1
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland. Electronic address: dmeldrum@rcsi.ie.
2
Dizziness and Balance Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.
3
Physiotherapy Department, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.
4
Physiotherapy Department, Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.
5
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To compare the effectiveness of virtual reality-based balance exercises to conventional balance exercises during vestibular rehabilitation in patients with unilateral peripheral vestibular loss (UVL).

DESIGN:

Assessor-blind, randomized controlled trial.

SETTING:

Two acute care university teaching hospitals.

PARTICIPANTS:

Patients with UVL (N=71) who had dizziness/vertigo, and gait and balance impairment.

INTERVENTIONS:

Patients with UVL were randomly assigned to receive 6 weeks of either conventional (n=36) or virtual reality-based (n=35) balance exercises during vestibular rehabilitation. The virtual reality-based group received an off-the-shelf virtual reality gaming system for home exercise, and the conventional group received a foam balance mat. Treatment comprised weekly visits to a physiotherapist and a daily home exercise program.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

The primary outcome was self-preferred gait speed. Secondary outcomes included other gait parameters and tasks, Sensory Organization Test (SOT), dynamic visual acuity, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Vestibular Rehabilitation Benefits Questionnaire, and Activities Balance Confidence Questionnaire. The subjective experience of vestibular rehabilitation was measured with a questionnaire.

RESULTS:

Both groups improved, but there were no significant differences in gait speed between the groups postintervention (mean difference, -.03m/s; 95% confidence interval [CI], -.09 to .02m/s). There were also no significant differences between the groups in SOT scores (mean difference, .82%; 95% CI, -5.00% to 6.63%) or on any of the other secondary outcomes (P>.05). In both groups, adherence to exercise was high (∼77%), but the virtual reality-based group reported significantly more enjoyment (P=.001), less difficulty with (P=.009) and less tiredness after (P=.03) balance exercises. At 6 months, there were no significant between-group differences in physical outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS:

Virtual reality-based balance exercises performed during vestibular rehabilitation were not superior to conventional balance exercises during vestibular rehabilitation but may provide a more enjoyable method of retraining balance after unilateral peripheral vestibular loss.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01442623.

KEYWORDS:

Dizziness; Gait; Postural balance; Rehabilitation; Vestibular diseases; Virtual reality exposure therapy

PMID:
25842051
DOI:
10.1016/j.apmr.2015.02.032
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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