Immersive Virtual Reality to Improve Walking Abilities in Cerebral Palsy: A Pilot Study

Chiara Gagliardi, Anna Carla Turconi, Emilia Biffi, Cristina Maghini, Alessia Marelli, Ambra Cesareo, Eleonora Diella, Daniele Panzeri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Immersive virtual reality (IVR) offers new possibilities to perform treatments in an ecological and interactive environment with multimodal online feedbacks. Sixteen school-aged children (mean age 11 ± 2.4 years) with Bilateral CP—diplegia, attending mainstream schools were recruited for a pilot study in a pre–post treatment experimental design. The intervention was focused on walking competences and endurance and performed by the Gait Real-time Analysis Interactive Lab (GRAIL), an innovative treadmill platform based on IVR. The participants underwent eighteen therapy sessions in 4 weeks. Functional evaluations, instrumental measures including GAIT analysis and parental questionnaire were utilized to assess the treatment effects. Walking pattern (stride length left and right side, respectively p = 0.001 and 0.003; walking speed p = 0.001), endurance (6MWT, p = 0.026), gross motor abilities (GMFM-88, p = 0.041) and most kinematic and kinetic parameters significantly improved after the intervention. The changes were mainly predicted by age and cognitive abilities. The effect could have been due to the possibility of IVR to foster integration of motor/perceptual competences beyond the training of the walking ability, giving a chance of improvement also to older and already treated children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1376-1384
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Cerebral palsy
  • Children
  • Gait rehabilitation
  • Immersive virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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