Newswise — JMIR Publications recently published "Benefits of Virtual Reality Balance Training for Patients With Parkinson Disease: Systematic Review, Meta-analysis, and Meta-Regression of a Randomized Controlled Trial" in JMIR Serious Games, which reported that virtual reality (VR) balance training is increasingly being pursued in biomedical research, specifically with respect to investigating balance ability with VR.

However, existing systematic reviews have found inconsistent conclusions about the efficacy of VR in improving balance in patients with Parkinson disease (PD).

The goal of the research was to evaluate the impact of VR balance training on the balance ability of patients with PD.

A total of 16 randomized controlled trials were analyzed, with the methodological quality evaluation score ranging from 5 to 8 points.

Meta-analysis showed that the balance ability of PD was significantly improved after VR training compared with the control group (standardized mean difference 2.127, 95% CI 1.202-3.052, P<.001).

Dr. Zhanbing Ren from Shenzhen University said, "Parkinson disease (PD) is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder and is the result of impaired dopamine-producing nerve cells in the ventral midbrain accompanied by progressive neuronal loss." 

VR technology involves human-computer interaction technology based on perception and can provide patients with multisensory stimulation and rich virtual scenes, increase the sense of immersion, and realize real-time feedback on physical actions.

The main potential mechanisms of VR therapy include the repeatability of virtual tasks, positive feedback from virtual devices, and concrete simulation of a virtual environment.

Therefore, VR technology may be an effective means of treating neurodegenerative diseases such as PD.

The virtual environment created by VR technology can promote the illusion of bodily movement, increase immersion to enhance the activation of motor brain regions, mobilize the changes of brain neural plasticity, reconstruct the synapses of nervous system cells, and directly train the central nervous system, resulting in significant benefits to the reorganization and recovery of nerve structure in PD and other neurodegenerative diseases.

In addition, sample sizes of randomized controlled trials are currently insufficient to explore the dose effect of VR technology training on improving PD balance.

Dr. Ren and their team concluded in their JMIR Publications Research Output, "The systematic review and meta-analysis confirmed that VR balance training is a highly effective means to improve balance performance with large effects in PD. In addition, we preliminarily extracted dose-effect relationships for training volume, informing clinicians and practitioners to design effective VR balance training for balance ability. Future studies should particularly focus on the detailed description of training variables, so as to further analyze the dose-effect relationship of VR balance training in PD." 



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Keywords - virtual reality, Parkinson disease, balance, systematic review, meta-analysis,  meta-regression, serious games, VR, rehabilitation, VR training 

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