- Transferability: It can be feared that the motor skills learned by VR cannot be transferred to real environments. However, there is a lot of evidence that patients are not only able to learn motor skills but also to put them into practice.
- Early learning: Patients with severe Parkinson’s disease may have difficulty learning a new motor skill, especially when it comes to the performance of complex motor skills. With VR, patients can benefit from simplifying the task to their core competencies. In contrast, in a real environment there are many distractions that can occur and slow down learning as patients try to distinguish the most important aspects of the task.
Limitations of VR in Parkinson’s disease.
VR technology has some limitations for patients with PD. These include the possibility of congenital overload, cyber illness or inappropriate content of the exercises used for the rehabilitation of PD.
In addition, home VR systems used for rehabilitation can be detrimental to performance, as patients can increase game performance by compensatory movements. Patients can begin to prioritize scores based on their movement quality, which reduces the training effects. Future home-based VR systems for neurological rehabilitation should ensure that compensatory movements cannot be used to improve game performance.
It remains unclear how VR systems can be adapted to the specific needs of PD populations. Commercial VR systems for people with neurological disorders are not yet developed. Current systems designed for the general healthy population, such as the Xbox Kinect and Nintendo Wii, may compromise the effectiveness of such interventions and the safety of these populations.
However, VR and physiotherapeutic measures have similar effects on gait, balance and quality of life. In a recent systematic review in 2016, it was concluded that there is limited evidence that VR can serve as a useful alternative to traditional physiotherapy to improve gait and balance in patients with PD.
Future research in VR for Parkinson’s disease.