STROKE: virtual reality no more effective than dominoes for rehabilitation
Virtual reality here, virtual reality there… Headsets that invite you to immerse yourself in universes that have “real” only appearance are becoming increasingly popular ; and not only in the video games sector. Between a new tool to fight phobias for psychiatrists or a device essential to the preservation of brain functions during brain surgery, virtual reality has also entered the field of health. However, the appeal of this novelty should not lead to the abandonment of “real reality” if one dares say. This is what emerges from a study published in the journal Lancet Neurology that compares the effectiveness of virtual reality with that of card games or dominoes in the rehabilitation of stroke patients. The clinical trial conducted on some 300 people in 14 specialized centers in 3 countries (USA, Canada, Peru) compared the results obtained in two groups of patients. Both benefited from classic rehabilitation sessions. While the former was invited to do simple activities such as playing cards or dominoes, the latter was treated to 10 one-hour sessions of virtual reality play.
An important assessment for the economics of health systems
Result ? “We found no significant differences between the two groups in terms of strength, dexterity, overall motor skills or quality of life,” says Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, a neurologist at St Michael’s Hospital at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study. “We all love technology, and we tend to think that new technologies are better than old strategies. But sometimes it is not. In this study, we showed that simple recreational activities that can be easily carried anywhere can be as effective as these technologies.”
If it does not reveal anything revolutionary, the study has the merit of reminding that before embarking on the use of new technologies in health, researchers and clinicians will have to evaluate the respective benefit of each technique for various pathologies. This will avoid investments that are irrelevant to health systems.