Children with cerebral palsy have varying degrees of physical disability. Motor function is a major issue, and these kids generally develop abnormally and more slowly than other children. They may struggle to walk or use their arms for big movements but also with finer motor skills, such as holding and using a pencil.
As technologies become more accessible, virtual reality is increasingly considered a therapeutic tool for many types of patients. Children with cerebral palsy, according to a new study, could see major benefits in motor function from playing three-dimensional, immersive games.
New Study Shows Virtual Reality Improves Motor Function and Development
A study recently reported in the Turkish Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation investigated the use of virtual reality as part of occupational and physical therapy sessions for children with cerebral palsy.
Traditionally, occupational and physical therapies for cerebral palsy focus on doing exercises and practicing daily functional movements. This helps to improve motor function, balance, and posture. It also aims to help prevent future problems.
The study included 41 children divided into two different groups. In the control group 20 of the children worked on standard therapies. The other group received the same therapies but also had additional virtual reality sessions for a few hours per week. The virtual reality games included things like basketball, tennis, swimming, and other sports. In order to play the game and virtually participate in the sport, they had to move their bodies in particular ways.
Researchers measured all of the children’s functional levels, mobility, and manual or motor function. They made the measurements before treatment and after four weeks of therapies. Both groups had similar results before the interventions. After the treatment sessions, the group that received virtual reality therapy had significant improvements in all three measurements as compared to the control group.
Gaming Keeps Kids Motivated
Therapy isn’t always fun, but results come from consistent work. Children may get bored with physical therapy, find it uncomfortable, or just get tired of it. Virtual reality could be very helpful in keeping kids engaged in important therapies. Playing games is more fun than simply going through the motions.
While gaming in therapy doesn’t have to be as high-tech as virtual reality, combining these two approaches may provide extra benefits. The new findings about how virtual reality can improve motor functioning along with a fun game, could make a big difference for children with cerebral palsy.
In the recent study, the researchers suggest that this increased engagement, along with extra time practicing motor skills, are responsible for the improvements seen in the experimental group. They hope to see more research that confirms these results or determines more details about exactly how virtual reality helps children improve motor function and development.
While traditional treatments for cerebral palsy continue to be necessary and important, researchers are now finding that adding technology can make a big difference. Virtual reality has the potential to improve all kinds of therapies for a number of conditions, including physical therapy and cerebral palsy.