Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Virtual reality skateboarding training for balance and functional performance in degenerative lumbar spine disease.

BACKGROUND: Degenerative lumbar spine disease (DLD) is a prevalent condition in middle-aged and elderly individuals. DLD frequently results in pain, muscle weakness, and motor impairment, which affect postural stability and functional performance in daily activities. Simulated skateboarding training could enable patients with DLD to engage in exercise with less pain and focus on single-leg weight-bearing. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of virtual reality (VR) skateboarding training on balance and functional performance in patients with DLD.

METHODS: Fourteen patients with DLD and 21 age-matched healthy individuals completed a 6-week program of VR skateboarding training. The motion capture and force platform systems were synchronized to collect data during a single-leg stance test (SLST). Musculoskeletal simulation was utilized to calculate muscle force based on the data. Four functional performance tests were conducted to evaluate the improvement after the training. A Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) was also employed for pain assessment.

RESULTS: After the training, pain intensity significantly decreased in patients with DLD (p = 0.024). Before the training, patients with DLD took longer than healthy individuals on the five times sit-to-stand test (p = 0.024). After the training, no significant between-group differences were observed in any of the functional performance tests (p > 0.05). In balance, patients with DLD were similar to healthy individuals after the training, except that the mean frequency (p = 0.014) was higher. Patients with DLD initially had higher biceps femoris force demands (p = 0.028) but shifted to increased gluteus maximus demand after the training (p = 0.037). Gluteus medius strength significantly improved in patients with DLD (p = 0.039), while healthy individuals showed consistent muscle force (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSION: This is the first study to apply the novel VR skateboarding training to patients with DLD. VR skateboarding training enabled patients with DLD to achieve the training effects in a posture that relieves lumbar spine pressure. The results also emphasized the significant benefits to patients with DLD, such as reduced pain, enhanced balance, and improved muscle performance.

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