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Effect of balance training using virtual reality-based serious games in individuals with total knee replacement: A randomized controlled trial.

BACKGROUND: Virtual reality (VR) and serious games (SGs) are widespread in rehabilitation for many orthopedic and neurological diseases. However, few studies have addressed the effects of rehabilitation with VR-based SGs on clinical, gait, and postural outcomes in individuals with total knee replacement (TKR).

OBJECTIVE: The primary objective was the efficacy of balance training using non-immersive VR-based SGs compared to conventional therapy in TKR patients on the Time Up and Go test. Secondary objectives included the efficacy on clinical, gait, and postural outcomes.

METHODS: We randomly allocated 56 individuals with unilateral TKR to the experimental group (EG) or control group (CG) for 15 sessions (45 min; 5 times per week) of non-immersive VR-based SGs or conventional balance training, respectively. The primary outcome was functional mobility measured by the Timed Up and Go test; secondary outcomes were walking speed, pain intensity, lower-limb muscular strength, independence in activities of daily living as well as gait and postural parameters.

RESULTS: We found significant within-group differences in all clinical outcomes and in a subset of gait (p<0.0001) and postural (p ≤ 0.05) parameters. Analysis of the stance time of the affected limb revealed significant between-group differences (p = 0.022): post-hoc analysis revealed within-group differences in the EG (p = 0.002) but not CG (p = 0.834). We found no significant between-group differences in other outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: Balance training with non-immersive VR-based SGs can improve clinical, gait, and postural outcomes in TKR patients. It was not superior to the CG findings but could be considered an alternative to the conventional approach and can be added to a regular rehabilitation program in TKR patients. The EG had a more physiological duration of the gait stance phase at the end of the treatment than the CG.

CLINICALTRIALS: GOV: NCT03454256.

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