Virtual reality technologies can improve patient outcomes in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and be useful in rehabilitation programs to improve performance in this population. This is evident from study results published in JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth.
DMD, a rare disease caused by a mutation in the gene that produces dystrophin, is characterized by muscle weakness that leads to loss of function and independence. Because virtual technologies have been used for upper limb rehabilitation in patients with stroke, cerebral palsy, and neuromuscular disease, the aim of the current systematic review was to determine the effectiveness of these technologies in upper limb rehabilitation in patients with DMD.
After a series of searches in PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, Cochrane Library and MEDLINE via EBSCO between June 2018 and September 2019, the study researchers included a total of 7 randomized clinical trials published between 2009 and 2019 in the qualitative analysis.
All included studies used new technologies as tools for physiotherapeutic rehabilitation of the upper limbs of patients with DMD.
The included studies included patients with DMD between 5 and 34 years of age. The participants were outpatient or wheelchair dependent. The studies included various virtual reality games, including music games, virtual ball mazes, catching cubes, or mazes.
The use of virtual machines for physical therapy rehabilitation of the upper limbs of patients with DMD was associated with improved motivation, along with evidence of improved quality of life and elbow extension when the virtual reality game training was done at home.
The included studies reported no adverse effects from the use of virtual reality technologies.
This study had several limitations, including the variability of the study samples and the differences between the variables registered, no data available on the correlation between the type of task and cognitive need or quality of movement. In some cases, the audiovisual stimulus caused anxiety and did not produce the desired effects.
Based on their results, the researchers came to the conclusion that “[v]Reality can be a great tool for physical therapy and can be used for Duchenne muscular dystrophy rehabilitation programs to improve patient performance during exercise. ”
MR Baeza-Barragán, MTL Manzanares, CR Vergara, MJ Casuso-Holgado, R. Martín-Valero. The Use of Virtual Reality Technologies in the Treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: Systematic Review. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. Published online on June 18, 2020). doi: 10.2196 / 21576