Non-Immersive Virtual Reality for Rehabilitation of the Older People: A Systematic Review into Efficacy and Effectiveness

Roberta Bevilacqua, Elvira Maranesi, Giovanni Renato Riccardi, Valentina Di Donna, Paolo Pelliccioni, Riccardo Luzi, Fabrizia Lattanzio, Giuseppe Pelliccioni

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


: Objective: the objective of this review is to analyze the advances in the field of rehabilitation through virtual reality, while taking into account non-immersive systems, as evidence have them shown to be highly accepted by older people, due to the lowest "cibersikness" symptomatology.

DATA SOURCES: a systematic review of the literature was conducted in June 2019. The data were collected from Cochrane, Embase, Scopus, and PubMed databases, analyzing manuscripts and articles of the last 10 years.

STUDY SELECTION: we only included randomized controlled trials written in English aimed to study the use of the virtual reality in rehabilitation. We selected 10 studies, which were characterized by clinical heterogeneity.

DATA EXTRACTION: quality evaluation was performed based on the Physioterapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale, suggested for evidence based review of stroke rehabilitation. Of 10 studies considered, eight were randomized controlled trials and the PEDro score ranged from four to a maximum of nine.

DATA SYNTHESIS: VR (Virtual Reality) creates artificial environments with the possibility of a patient interaction. This kind of experience leads to the development of cognitive and motor abilities, which usually positively affect the emotional state of the patient, increasing collaboration and compliance. Some recent studies have suggested that rehabilitation treatment interventions might be useful and effective in treating motor and cognitive symptoms in different neurological disorders, including traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and progressive supranuclear palsy.

CONCLUSIONS: as it is shown by the numerous studies in the field, the application of VR has a positive impact on the rehabilitation of the most predominant geriatric syndromes. The level of realism of the virtual stimuli seems to have a crucial role in the training of cognitive abilities. Future research needs to improve study design by including larger samples, longitudinal designs, long term follow-ups, and different outcome measures, including functional and quality of life indexes, to better evaluate the clinical impact of this promising technology in healthy old subjects and in neurological patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 5 2019

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