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Feasibility of virtual reality and comparison of its effectiveness to biofeedback in children with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies.

Muscle & Nerve 2024 April 2
INTRODUCTION/AIMS: The utilization of virtual reality (VR) and biofeedback training, while effective in diverse populations, remains limited in the treatment of Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies (D/BMD). This study aimed to determine the feasibility of VR in children with D/BMD and compare the effectiveness of VR and biofeedback in children with D/BMD.

METHODS: The study included 25 children with D/BMD. Eight children in the control group participated in a routine follow-up rehabilitation program, while the remaining children were randomly assigned to the VR (n = 9) and biofeedback (n = 8) groups for a 12-week intervention. The following evaluations were performed before, during (week 6), and after treatment: Muscle pain and cramps, laboratory studies, muscle strength, timed performance, function (Motor Function Measurement Scale-32, Vignos, and Brooke Scales), and balance (Pediatric Functional Reach Test and Balance Master System). Motivation for rehabilitation was determined.

RESULTS: The median ages were 9.00 (VR), 8.75 (biofeedback), and 7.00 (control) years. The study found no significant differences between groups in pretreatment assessments for most measures, except for tandem step width (p < .05). VR and biofeedback interventions significantly improved various aspects (pain intensity, cramp frequency, cramp severity, muscle strength, timed performance, functional level, and balance) in children with D/BMD (p < .05), while the conventional rehabilitation program maintained patients' current status without any changes. The study found VR and biofeedback equally effective, with VR maintaining children's motivation for rehabilitation longer (p < .05).

DISCUSSION: The study showed that both VR and biofeedback appear to be effective for rehabilitation this population, but additional, larger studies are needed.

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