Three-dimensional head-mounted gaming task procedure maximizes effects of vestibular rehabilitation in unilateral vestibular hypofunction: a randomized controlled pilot trial

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Abstract

Considering the emerging advantages related to virtual reality implementation in clinical rehabilitation, the aim of the present study was to discover possible (i) improvements achievable in unilateral vestibular hypofunction patients using a self-assessed head-mounted device (HMD)-based gaming procedure when combined with a classical vestibular rehabilitation protocol (HMD group) as compared with a group undergoing only vestibular rehabilitation and (ii) HMD procedure-related side effects. Therefore, 24 vestibular rehabilitation and 23-matched HMD unilateral vestibular hypofunction individuals simultaneously underwent a 4-week rehabilitation protocol. Both otoneurological measures (vestibulo-ocular reflex gain and postural arrangement by studying both posturography parameters and spectral values of body oscillation) and performance and self-report measures (Italian Dizziness Handicap Inventory; Activities-specific Balance Confidence scale; Zung Instrument for Anxiety Disorders, Dynamic Gait Index; and Simulator Sickness Questionnaire) were analyzed by means of a between-group/within-subject analysis of variance model. A significant post-treatment between-effect was found, and the HMD group demonstrated an overall improvement in vestibulo-ocular reflex gain on the lesional side, in posturography parameters, in low-frequency spectral domain, as well as in Italian Dizziness Handicap Inventory and Activities-specific Balance Confidence scale scores. Meanwhile, Simulator Sickness Questionnaire scores demonstrated a significant reduction in symptoms related to experimental home-based gaming tasks during the HMD procedure. Our findings revealed the possible advantages of HMD implementation in vestibular rehabilitation, suggesting it as an innovative, self-assessed, low-cost, and compliant tool useful in maximizing vestibular rehabilitation outcomes.

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