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VR and Cerebral Palsy Rehabilitation

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder that impacts muscle coordination and body movement, due to disruption of the brain’s ability to control movement and balance. Its underlying cause is abnormal brain development or damage to the brain before, during, or after birth. Symptoms of CP vary from individual to individual where some cases may be more severe than others. It is most commonly found in infants and young children.

Typically, CP rehabilitation focuses on improving and developing motor skills on the lower extremity such as the hip, legs, and knee. 

In recent years, researchers uncovered the impact of Virtual Reality (VR) in treating a range of neurological disorders, including CP. In a single-blind, prospective, randomized-controlled study published in 2019, researchers explored how VR can help children with Cerebral Palsy. 

The development of VR rehabilitation focuses more on the upper extremities and aims to improve functional motor skills and the potential to improve hand-eye coordination and skills that will help in daily-living activities. VR rehabilitation works by creating an online three dimensional environment that helps children apply their motor skills in a fun and engaging manner. With its ability to incorporate a three dimensional element, it allows for children to adapt to the real world with the skills that they are developing. 

The 2019 study conducted research on 41 patients, where 21 individuals were put into the study group and 20 individuals into the control group. Bimanual Fine Motor Function, Gross Motor Function Classification System and Functional Mobility Scale tests were performed before and after each treatment session. After the trial, there was a significant increase in the test scores for those in the study group.

The applications of VR in neurological therapy is an exciting advancement that will bring hope to large parts of the population dealing not just with CP, but other brain health conditions such as Post Concussion Syndrome, Dementia, PTSD, and more.

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