“Community Re-walk”: Non-immersive virtual reality treadmill training

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Authors (including presenting author) :
Ng CM (1), Cheng KC (1), Lo TM (1), Lau FO (1)
Affiliation :
(1) Physiotherapy Department, Tai Po Hospital
Introduction :
All patients desire to get back to their usual community after hospitalization. However, the deterioration in walking performance limits their ability and confidence; patients might become homebound and isolated from the society. Non-immersive virtual reality treadmill training creates “real and familiar community environment” which enhance their participation, by incorporating the speed synchronization with the treadmill walking, the mental and physical preparation would facilitate patients return to their habitual community.
Objectives :
The purpose of this program is to promote the patient’s walking ability in returning to community.
Methodology :
All participants were recruited from Geriatric Day Hospital & Rehabilitation Centre in Tai Po Hospital. They were living at home but still lack of confidence to walk in their nearby community. The program provides patients a course of treadmill training with physiotherapist-developed training videos. Progression of training can be achieved through videos of real-world walking paths with different level of complexity, starting from the garden walk, passing through a shopping mall, to getting through a crowded wet market in community. 10 training sessions were conducted. Each session lasted for 15 minutes. Synchronization of video pacing with treadmill speed together with the original sound track of the particular environment provides patients with a real-world experience during the training. The comfortable gait speed (CGS) and fastest gait speed (FGS), 6-minute walk test (6MWT) and Fall Efficacy Scale (FES) were measured at the beginning and after 10 sessions of training.
Result & Outcome :
From December 2018 to March 2019, eight stroke survivors (Male: 3; Female: 5. mean post-stroke days: 154 days. Mean age: 59 years old) had completed the training. All participants had shown significant improvement in CGS (95% CI: -0.23 to -0.05; p < 0.01), FGS (95% CI: -0.28 to -0.06; p < 0.01), 6MWT (95% CI:-89.54 to -17.97; p < 0.01) and FES (95% CI: 0.89 to 14.36; p < 0.05). Six out of eight stroke survivors started to walk again in the community. The non-immersive virtual reality treadmill training program enhances the patient’s walking ability and improves their confidence in community walking. The setup is inexpensive and highly adaptable on currently available equipment which indicates further publicity in use.

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