2015 Volume 236 Issue 4 Pages 273-280
Virtual reality training is considered as an effective intervention method of stroke patients, and the virtual reality system for therapeutic rehabilitation has emphasized the cognitive factors to improve walking function. The purpose of current study was to investigate the effect of virtual reality training with cognitive load (VRTCL) on walking function of chronic stroke. Chronic stroke patients were randomly assigned to the VRTCL group (11 patients, including 5 men; mean age, 60.0 years; post-stroke duration, 273.9 days) or control group (11 patients, including 2 men; mean age, 58.6 years; post-stroke duration, 263.9 days). All subjects participated in the standard rehabilitation program that consisted of physical and occupational therapies. In addition, VRTCL group participated in the VRTCL for 4 weeks (30 min per day and five times a week), while those in the control group participated in virtual reality treadmill training. Walking function under single (walking alone) and dual task (walking with cognitive tasks) conditions was assessed using an electrical walkway system. After the 4-week intervention, under both single and dual task conditions, significant improvement on walking function was observed in VRTCL and control groups (P < 0.05). In addition, in the dual task condition, greater improvement on walking function was observed in the VRTCL group, compared with the control group (P < 0.05). These findings demonstrated the efficacy of VRTCL on the walking function under the dual task condition. Therefore, we suggest that VRTCL may be an effective method for the achievement of independent walking in chronic stroke patients.