A novel use of virtual reality in the treatment of cognitive and motor deficit in spinal cord injury: A case report

Giuseppa Maresca, Maria Grazia Maggio, Antonio Buda, Gianluca La Rosa, Alfredo Manuli, Placido Bramanti, Rosaria De Luca, Rocco Salvatore Calabrò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


RATIONALE: Aim of this study is to evaluate the cognitive and motor outcomes after a combined rehabilitative training using a standard cognitive approach and virtual reality (VR), in a patient with spinal cord injury (SCI).

PATIENT'S CONCERNS: A 60-year-old right-handed man, affected by incomplete cervical SCI, came to our observation for a moderate tetraparesis, mainly involving the left side, after about 6-months from the acute event. The neurological examination showed imbalance with upper limb incoordination, besides the paresis mainly involving the left side. At a neuropsychological evaluation, he presented important impairment in cognitive and behavioural status, with temporal and spatial disorientation, a reduction of attention and memory process, deficit of executive function and a severe depression of mood, which was not detected during the previous recovery.

DIAGNOSIS: Motor and cognitive deficits in SCI.

INTERVENTIONS: The patient was 1st submitted to standard cognitive training and traditional physiotherapy, and then to a combined therapeutic approach, in which virtual reality training was provided by means of the virtual reality rehabilitation system (VRRS, Khymeia, Italy).

OUTCOMES: After the combined therapeutic approach with the VRRS training, we observed a significant improvement in different cognitive domains, a notable reduction of anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as motor performance, and balance improvement.

LESSONS: Virtual reality can be considered a promising tool for the rehabilitation of different neurological disorders, including patients with both motor and cognitive deficits following SCI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
Issue number50
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Cervical Vertebrae/injuries
  • Cognitive Dysfunction/etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paresis/etiology
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Spinal Cord Injuries/complications
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy/methods


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