Journal of Taiwan Occupational Therapy Research and Practice
Objective: This paper systematically reviewed the literature examining the effectiveness of Virtual reality (VR) on functional recovery of the upper extremities following stroke, and provides levels of evidence with respect to these empirical findings. Methods: PubMed, Medline, CINAHL, and Scopus databases dated to April 2009 were searched to identify relevant studies. The key words were stroke/hemiplegia、rehabilitation、upper limb、virtual reality/virtual environment. The criteria for inclusion in this study were the inclusion of VR therapy as an intervention approach in the empirical study and the trial had to include upper limb motor training process. Results: Twenty-two eligible studies were included and analyed. Patients with mild-to-moderate to severe upper limb motor impairment at subacute to chronic stage can benefit from VR. In general, the patients that were trained in VR environments showed significant improvements at the level of body structure and function, including movement performance, movement capability, and motor function. Outcomes in the aspects of activity of daily living (Functional Independence Measure) and participation could be improved, but only two researches studied these two aspects. Conclusion: VR could improve body structure and functions, daily function and activity participation in patients with stroke. Stroke patients with mild-to-moderate upper limb motor impairment were found to benefit from upper extremity training using VR technology. However, levels of evidence of studies reviewed are low. More researches with control groups and larger sample sizes are needed.