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Effect of Virtual Reality on Upper Extremity Function in Children With Cerebral Palsy: A Meta-analysis

Chen, Yu-ping ScD, PT; Lee, Shih-Yu PhD, RN; Howard, Ayanna M. PhD

Pediatric Physical Therapy:
doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000000046
Review Article
Abstract

Purpose: To systematically examine the effect of virtual reality (VR) on upper extremity (UE) function in children with cerebral palsy (CP) and assess the association among VR effects and children's characteristics and an intervention protocol.

Method: A systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed, CINAHL, Cochrane, and PsycINFO up to June 2013. Research studies involving children with CP that used VR as the intervention method and UE outcome measures were included.

Results: The search yielded 14 research articles, including 3 randomized controlled trials and 11 case series. Overall, VR provided a strong effect size (d = 1.00) when comparing pre- and postintervention. In subgroup analyses, younger children receiving home-based or laboratory-based VR and using an engineer-built VR system showed better improvement.

Conclusions and Implications: Virtual reality is a viable tool to improve UE function in children with CP. However, a more vigorous research design is needed to make a conclusive recommendation.

In Brief

VR is a viable tool to improve UE function in children with CP. However, a more vigorous research design is needed to make a conclusive recommendation.

Author Information

Department of Physical Therapy (Dr Chen) and School of Nursing (Dr Lee), Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia; School of Electronic and Computer Engineering (Dr Howard), Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia.

Correspondence: Yu-ping Chen, ScD, PT, Department of Physical Therapy, Georgia State University, PO Box 4019, Atlanta, GA 30302 (ypchen@gsu.edu).

Grant Support: This study was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, USA 1208287, to Drs Howard and Chen.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and the Section on Pediatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association.