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Influence of Virtual Reality Soccer Game on Walking Performance in Robotic Assisted Gait Training for Children

By Bruetsch, Karin; Schuler, Tabea; Koenig, Alexander; Zimmerli, Lukas; Merillat-Koeneke, Susan; Luenenburger, Lars; Riener, Robert; Jaencke, Lutz; Meyer-Heim, Andreas; Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, Vol. 7, No. 15
Publication Date: April 2010

Study undertaken for the development of a virtual reality (VR) based scenario which provides interactive elements to engage pediatric patients during robotic assisted treadmill training (RAGT). The aim of the study was to compare the immediate effect of different supportive conditions, VR versus non-VR, on motor output in patients and healthy control participants during training with the driven gait orthosis Lokomat. Participants were 18 children, 10 patients with neurological gait disorders resulting from conditions including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injury, and 8 controls without disabilities, all ranging in age from 8 to 17 years, 12 of whom were girls. Participants were instructed to walk on the Lokomat in 4 different, randomly presented conditions: (1) normally without supporting assistance, (2) with therapists’ instructions, (3) with VR as a motivating tool, and (4) with the VR tool combined with therapists’ instructions. Sensors at hip and knee joints were used to measure human-machine interaction forces. Additionally, participants’ acceptance of the RAGT with VR was assessed using a questionnaire. Results showed that active participation in patients and control children increased significantly when supported and motivated either by therapists’ instructions or by a VR scenario compared with the baseline measurement or normal walking without supporting assistance. Analysis of the questionnaire showed that all participants had fun during the whole training session. Study limitations and implications for future research are discussed.
Published by: BioMed Central Ltd   (Website:

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