Research

Research

Chen, Jen et al
Frontiers in Public Health

Introduction: Cross-infection risk from contact exposure limits exercise opportunities in children with cystic fibrosis (CF). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of a new live-streamed platform which delivered supervised and interactive group exercise sessions to CF children via digital devices while avoiding contact exposure.

Methods: Ten CF children participated in a 6-week tele-exercise program. The program consisted of three 30-min sessions per week for a total of 18 sessions and included aerobic, resistance, and flexibility exercises. Sessions were streamed via a HIPAA compliant VSee telemedicine platform. Instructors and participants were able to interact in real-time online. Heart rate (HR) monitors were used to evaluate exercise intensity with a goal of moderate-vigorous physical activity ≥10 min, 70% of the sessions. System usability scale (SUS) and qualitative questionnaires were used to gauge participants’ satisfaction and feedback.

Results: On average participants attended 85% of the sessions. For the overall sessions participants exercise 21.1 ± 6.9 min at moderate-vigorous physical activity. Nine out of 10 participants used the exercise platform without parental guidance. Qualitative questionnaire and System Usability Scale (SUS) indicated that all participants enjoyed the tele-exercise program and highly rated the exercise platform 90.8 out of 100 (passing > 68).

Conclusions: Tele-exercise platform is a promising new approach to promote exercise in children with CF. The online platform allows supervised virtual group exercise experience with optimal participation and no risk for cross-infection. This approach might prove to be useful in enhancing the use of exercise as therapy in children with CF.

Capelini, Camila Miliani et al
Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment

Background

In individuals severely affected with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), virtual reality has recently been used as a tool to enhance community interaction. Smartphones offer the exciting potential to improve communication, access, and participation, and present the unique opportunity to directly deliver functionality to people with disabilities.

Objective

To verify whether individuals with DMD improve their motor performance when undertaking a visual motor task using a smartphone game.

Patients and methods

Fifty individuals with DMD and 50 healthy, typically developing (TD) controls, aged 10–34 years participated in the study. The functional characterization of the sample was determined through Vignos, Egen Klassifikation, and the Motor Function Measure scales. To complete the task, individuals moved a virtual ball around a virtual maze and the time in seconds was measured after every attempt in order to analyze improvement of performance after the practice trials. Motor performance (time to finish each maze) was measured in phases of acquisition, short-term retention, and transfer.

Results

Use of the smartphone maze game promoted improvement in performance during acquisition in both groups, which remained in the retention phase. At the transfer phases, with alternative maze tasks, the performance in DMD group was similar to the performance of TD group, with the exception of the transfer to the contralateral hand (nondominant). However, the group with DMD demonstrated longer movement time at all stages of learning, compared with the TD group.

Conclusion

The practice of a visual motor task delivered via smartphone game promoted an improvement in performance with similar patterns of learning in both groups. Performance can be influenced by task difficulty, and for people with DMD, motor deficits are responsible for the lower speed of execution. This study indicates that individuals with DMD showed improved performance in a short-term motor learning protocol using a smartphone. We advocate that this technology could be used to promote function in this population.

Chunhee Cho, Wonjeong Hwang, Sujin Hwang, Yijung Chung
The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine

Independent walking is an important goal of clinical and community-based rehabilitation for children with cerebral palsy (CP). Virtual reality-based rehabilitation therapy is effective in motivating children with CP. This study investigated the effects of treadmill training with virtual reality on gait, balance, muscular strength, and gross motor function in children with CP. Eighteen children with spastic CP were randomly divided into the virtual reality treadmill training (VRTT) group (9 subjects, mean age, 10.2 years) and treadmill training (TT) group (9 subjects, mean age, 9.4 years). The groups performed their respective programs as well as conventional physical therapy 3 times/week for 8 weeks. Muscle strength was assessed using a digitalized manual muscle tester. Gross motor function was assessed using the Gross Motor Functional Measure (GMFM). Balance was assessed using the Pediatric Balance Scale (PBS). Gait speed was assessed using the 10-meter walk test (10MWT), and gait endurance was assessed using the 2-minute walk test (2MWT). After training, gait and balance was improved in the VRTT compared to the TT group (P < 0.05). Muscular strength was significantly greater in the VRTT group than the TT group, except for right hamstring strength. The improvements in GMFM (standing) and PBS scores were greater in the VRTT group than the TT group (P < 0.05). Furthermore, the VRTT group showed the higher values of 10MWT and 2MWT compared to the TT group (P < 0.05). In conclusion, VRTT programs are effective for improving gait, balance, muscular strength, and gross motor function in children with CP.

Demers, Marika et al
Frontiers in Public Health Neurology

Current guidelines against spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) interrupt non-essential rehabilitation services. Thus, individuals with physical disabilities such as children with cerebral palsy can no longer benefit from physical rehabilitation during this undetermined period. Using either a synchronous or asynchronous format, in collaboration with a therapist via telerehabilitation, we suggest that active video games and low-cost virtual reality are a promising delivery mode for at-home rehabilitation in the context of a global pandemic. This therapeutic modality, incorporated into an at-home individualized treatment plan, provides a means to lessen the impact of an interruption in rehabilitation services while not loosing the pre-pandemic, in-person physical activity gains. Growing evidence supports active video games and low-cost virtual reality as viable therapeutic interventions for children with physical disabilities. These technologies are especially well-accepted by pediatric populations for the ludic and motivating features that lend themselves to nearly seamless incorporation into telerehabilitation. Advantages for rehabilitation of active video games and low-cost virtual reality include a rich, challenging, multi-modal training environment in which high numbers of movement repetitions can be accomplished, and a unique opportunity to foster engaged practice actions that go beyond household activities. We offer suggestions for the clinician about how to adopt active video games and low-cost virtual reality into your practice during a global pandemic.

El-Shamy, S, and R Alsharif
Journal of Musculoskeletal & Neuronal Interactions

Objectives:

The objective was to evaluate the effects of virtual reality versus conventional physiotherapy on upper extremity function in children with obstetric brachial plexus injury.

Methods:

Forty children with Erb’s palsy were selected for this randomized controlled study. They were assigned randomly to either group A (conventional physiotherapy program) or group B (virtual reality program using Armeo® spring for 45 min three times/week for 12 successive weeks). Mallet system scores for shoulder function and shoulder abduction, and external rotation range of motion (ROM) were obtained; shoulder abductor, and external rotators isometric strength were evaluated pre-and post-treatment using Mallet scoring system, standard universal goniometer, and handheld dynamometer.

Results:

The results of this study indicate that the children in both groups showed improvement in shoulder functions post-treatment with greater improvements in group B. The abduction muscle strength after treatment was 8.53 and 11.3 Nm for group A and group B, respectively. The external rotation muscle strength after treatment was 5.88 and 7.45 Nm for group A and group B, respectively.

Conclusions:

The virtual reality program is a significantly more effective than conventional physiotherapy program in improving the upper extremity functions in children with obstetric brachial plexus injury.