Content » Vol 53, Issue 2

Original report

Effects of virtual reality-based neck-specific sensorimotor training in patients with chronic neck pain: A randomized controlled pilot trial

Marina Nusser, Sebastian Knapp, Michael Kramer, Gert Krischak
Institute for Research in Rehabilitation Medicine at Ulm University, Bad Buchau, Germany
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2786

Abstract

Objective: To evaluate the effects of neck-specific sensorimotor training using a virtual reality device compared with 2 standard rehabilitation programmes: with, and without general sensorimotor training, in patients with non-traumatic chronic neck pain.
Design: Pilot randomized control study.
Patients and methods: A total of 51 participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: 1: control group; 2: sensorimotor group; 3: virtual reality group. All 3 groups received the clinic’s standard rehabilitation programme. Group 2 also received “general sensori-motor training” in the form of group therapy, for a total of 120 min. Group 3 received additional virtual reality-based “neck-specific sensorimotor training” for a total of 120 min. Participants’ neck pain, head-aches, active cervical range of motion, and Neck Disability Index were determined before and after 3 weeks of intervention.
Results: Compared with the control group, the virtual reality group showed significant (p < 0.05) advantages in relief of headaches, and active cervical range of motion in flexion and extension. Com-pared with the sensorimotor group, the virtual reality group showed significant improvements in cervical extension.
Conclusion: Virtual reality-based sensorimotor training may increase the effects of a standard rehabilitation programme for patients with non-traumatic chronic neck pain, especially active cervical range of motion in extension.

Lay Abstract

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of neck-specific coordination training using a virtual reality device, in comparison with general coordination training and a standard exercise programme as part of inpatient rehabilitation for patients with chronic neck pain. Pain, disability and mobility of the neck were determined before and after 3 weeks of training intervention in 51 patients. The virtual reality training group exhibited greater effects in relief of headaches, and bending the neck forwards and backwards compared with the standard exercise group, and an increased ability to bend the neck backwards compared with the coordination training group. The results suggest that neck-specific coordination training using a virtual reality device increases the benefits of standard inpatient rehabilitation in patients with chronic neck pain, particularly in bending the neck backwards.

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