Adanna L. Cheek1, J.P. Barfield1. Virtual Reality-Based Training on Upper Body Movement and Activities of Daily Life in Older Adults with Parkinson’s Disease. 1Department of Health and Human Performance, Radford University, Radford, VA, USA.
Introduction: Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects both a person’s motor and non-motor functions. Adults with PD experience difficulties with walking, balance, bed mobility, and other tasks of daily living (ADL). For older adults living with PD, physical therapy has been shown to greatly improve their quality of life. In recent years, with advancements in technology, physical therapy has made leaps and bounds in the treatment of patients with neurological diseases. One rising innovation in technology that shows promise as an alternative physical therapy treatment is the use of virtual reality (VR). Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate how VR, focused specifically on the upper body, may affect upper body movement and activities of daily life in people with PD. Methods: Five participants with Parkinson’s Disease, who ranged in age from 60 to 94 years, participated in 8 weeks of VR training using the Nintendo Wii Sports interactive video game. To determine whether there was an improvement in upper body movement and ADLs, the participants’ upper body motor ability was assessed before and after Wii game training using the Arm Motor Ability Test (AMAT). Results: Participants’ improvement in playing the Wii games did not necessarily show improvement in their ability to complete the AMAT tasks. Only two participants showed an improvement on their AMAT score. When examined by type of task, participants demonstrated an improvement in post-test times on gross motor AMAT tasks but not on fine motor tasks. Conclusion: Final results of this study demonstrated that the use of the Nintendo Wii Sports interactive video game with people with PD improved the participants’ performance on gross motor tasks but not did not improve participants’ overall AMAT performance. These results show that interactive virtual reality games may improve people with PD’s upper body mobility and activities of daily life while performing gross motor movements.