2019 Volume 4 Article ID: 20190011
Background: Virtual reality (VR) technology has been recently introduced in a variety of clinical settings, such as physical, occupational, cognitive, and psychological rehabilitation or training. However, the clinical efficacy of VR rehabilitation compared with traditional training techniques remains to be elucidated. Case: A 90-year-old man underwent VR-guided, dual-task, body trunk balance training in the sitting position using a newly developed medical device (mediVR KAGURA, mediVR, Inc., Toyonaka, Japan) after his physical activity level had plateaued. The patient had difficulty in walking outside the hospital even after having undergone traditional physical training. VR-guided training was performed for 40 min every weekday for 2 weeks. Trunk balance training was performed using reaching tasks, and cognitive stimulation was designed to emulate the cognitive processing involved when walking in a city or town. After the VR-guided training, the patient’s 6-min walk distance improved from 430 m to 500 m even though there had been no improvement in muscle strength of the lower extremities. Furthermore, the patient could successfully walk outside the hospital without falling or colliding with obstacles. Discussion: It is noteworthy that the patient’s walking ability improved further by the addition of VR-guided, dual-task, trunk balance training carried out in the sitting position. This finding suggests several possible new approaches to overcoming walking disability. Walking requires lower-extremity muscle strength, postural balance, and dual-task processing. Currently, no effective quantitative methods have been identified for postural balance and dual-task training with the patient in the sitting position. Herein, we discuss the possible advantages of VR-guided rehabilitation over traditional training methods.