Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Physiology 2014 (London, UK) (2014) Proc Physiol Soc 31, PCB148

Poster Communications

Effects of virtual-reality based balance training on posture control in Parkinson's disease

M. Shih1, Y. Yang1, R. Wang1

1. Physical Therapy and Assistive Technology, National Yang-Ming University,, Taipei City, Taiwan.


People with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) commonly experience postural instability during daily activities. Balance deficits may substantially lead to fall and increase in disability. Previous studies reported positive results on balance performance in PD after virtual-reality (VR) based rehabilitation. However, these effects were not evident strongly to reveal maximal improvements and may be limited by improper VR system design, including lack of full-body motion capture involved in postural control and non-tailored programs that prone to remain ineffective practices. New strategy of VR aided by Xbox Kinect which can make use key components targeting balance tasks probably overcomes the above mentioned limitations, thus may offer the superior training condition for therapeutic goals. However, little evidence was known about the effect of Xbox Kinect. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of a virtual-reality based balance training using Xbox Kinect versus conventional physical therapy on postural control and functional balance in subjects with PD. Ten subjects with PD (Hoehn and Yahr stages 1 to 3) were recruited and randomly assigned to either a twice weekly VR with Xbox Kinect or conventional physical therapy for 4-week balance training. The outcomes consisted of limits of stability (LOS), adaptation test (AT), and timed up and go (TUG). Non-parametric statistics were used to analyze all dependent variables. After training, the VR group showed a significant improvement in AT (tilting backward perturbation) compared with control group. Moreover, similar trend toward positive change for each subscale of LOS (reaction time, movement velocity, endpoint excursion, directional control), AT (tilting forward or backward perturbation), and TUG were also observed in both groups. This trial may provide basic information to support the possibility of therapeutic use of virtual reality aided by Xbox Kinect in PD, but without strong evidence to confirm further advantages above the conventional therapy.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements