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Walking training with virtual reality after stroke: a pilot study

Authors Anna Danielsson
Åsa Lundgren Nilsson
Jurgen Broeren
Katharina S Sunnerhagen
Published in World Congress of Neuro Rehabilitation Istanbul, Turkiet 8-12 april 2014
Publication year 2014
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Language en
Keywords stroke, walking, treadmill, virtual reality, perception
Subject categories Physiotherapy, Neuroscience


Background: A prototype for walking training on a treadmill with feedback using virtual reality has been developed at Rehabilitation medicine. It consists of movement sensors and special software directing an application with movie and sound, imaging a walking environment. The aim was to explore the feasibility and possible physical effects of walking training with the system after stroke. Method: Volunteering were one woman and five men with stroke 2-73 months previously. Training was offered 1-2 times/week during 4 weeks. The participants were free to choose treadmill speed, use of handrail and duration of each session. Walking speed, distance and perceived exertion were registered at each session. Balance and walking ability were evaluated prior to and after the training period. Results: Training lasted 2-4 weeks with 5-8 sessions/person. Walking time was 10-23 minutes/session. Walking speeds were 0.4-0.8 m/s and distances 800-2100 m/session. Exertion was perceived as easy or somewhat hard. Training was safe, no falls occurred during 41 sessions in total. All participants felt motivated and some described a “whole experience”. Three reported transient dizziness and other felt coordination problems and tiredness in the supporting hand. A higher technical quality was desired as well as possibility to get a variation in walking environment. The outcome measures showed that balance was slightly improved in four cases and walking speed in one, but no consistent change pattern was seen. Conclusions: This pilot study showed that a system with visual and audio feedback on a treadmill is safe and can be motivating for walking training. Perceptual problems have to be considered and may need further investigation especially in persons with neurological impairments. Technical quality and a possibility to offer various virtual environments are areas for further development. The duration of this study was too short for changes in physical outcomes to be expected.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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