April 15, 2011
In response to the article, "Stroke
patients get boost from virtual reality therapy" by Rachael Rettner, I must
take exception to Ms. Rettner’s statement, "Patients were more likely to improve their arm strength
if they played virtual reality games than if they received standard physical
In the meta-analysis to which Ms. Rettner refers,
the authors' conclusions state that "VR
and video game applications are novel and potentially useful technologies
that can be combined with conventional rehabilitation for upper arm
improvement after stroke." Ms Rettner’s interpretation that games
alone are more effective is not supported.
recovery is achieved through conscious, meaningful practice of activities as
part of an individual plan of care that focuses on restoration of mobility, strength, and function of
the affected limb. Virtual
reality is used by physical therapists, when appropriate, to support recovery
and achieve the individual's goals. Physical
therapists are also on the forefront of developing advanced technologies and
clinical applications to address paralysis and weakness, such
as robotic and virtual reality augmented rehabilitation for people with stroke.
For more information on how
physical therapists are working with advancements in stroke technology and with
patients who have had stroke, please visit www.moveforwardpt.com.
R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD
American Physical Therapy Association