The University of Arizona

Evaluation of a Virtual Reality Based Balance Training Program in Individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment

Ivy Lin

Abstract


Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is characterized by not only a decline in cognition and executive function but also motor function and coordination as defined by gait and balance. In order to assess the effectiveness of existing virtual reality based balance training on motor performance, this study randomized a subset of patients at Banner Sun Health Research Institute to balance training intervention (n=12) or control (n=10) groups. Using wearable sensors, participants in the intervention group received 8 training sessions, on average twice a week for 4 weeks, during which they were asked to perform both weight-shifting and obstacle-crossing tasks. Center of mass, ankle, and hip sway measurements as well as normal and fast walking speeds were used to assess balance and gait respectively. Secondary outcome measures included trail making A and B tests to assess cognition, along with fear of falling and depressive sign scales to assess psychosocial factors. The intervention demonstrated effects on reduction of center of mass, ankle, and hip sway (p=0.015-0.041) as well as a reduction in fear of falling (p=0.015) in intervention group participants as compared to the control group. These results suggest that virtual reality based balance training can improve balance in patients with MCI and that such interventions have the potential to mitigate aspects of motor performance decline within this population.


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