Cochrane review: virtual reality for stroke rehabilitation

Kate Laver, Stacey George, Susan Thomas, JE Deutsch, Maria Crotty

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    131 Citations (Scopus)


    Aim: Virtual reality and interactive video gaming are innovative therapy approaches in the field of stroke rehabilitation. The primary objective of this review was to determine the effectiveness of virtual reality on motor function after stroke. The impact on secondary outcomes including activities of daily living was also assessed. Methods: Randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials that compared virtual reality with an alternative or no intervention were included in the review. The authors searched the Cochrane Stroke Group Trials Register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, electronic databases, trial registers, reference lists, Dissertation Abstracts, conference proceedings and contacted key researchers and virtual reality manufacturers. Search results were independently examined by two review authors to identify studies meeting the inclusion criteria. Results: Nineteen studies with a total of 565 participants were included in the review. Variation in intervention approaches and outcome data collected limited the extent to which studies could be compared. Virtual reality was found to be significantly more effective than conventional therapy in improving upper limb function (standardised mean difference, SMD) 0.53, 95% confidence intervals [CI] 0.25 to 0.81)) based on seven studies, and activities of daily living (ADL) function (SMD 0.81, 95% CI 0.39 to 1.22) based on three studies. No statistically significant effects were found for grip strength (based on two studies) or gait speed (based on three studies). Conclusion: Virtual reality appears to be a promising approach however, further studies are required to confirm these findings.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)523-530
    Number of pages8
    JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


    • Rehabilitation
    • Stroke
    • Video games


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