APTA Responds to 'Stroke Patients Get Boost From Virtual Reality Therapy'

April 15, 2011

Dear Editor:

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 therapy."

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.

Motor 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