The effect of virtual reality on visual vertigo symptoms in patients with peripheral vestibular dysfunction
Vestibular rehabilitation incorporating habituation, adaptation, balance and gait exercises is currently con- sidered the standard of care for patients with peripheral vestibular disorders regardless of age and symptom duration. In occasions Individuals with vestibular dysfunction may experience visual vertigo (VV), in which symptoms are provoked or exacerbated by excessive or disorientating visual stimuli (e.g. supermarkets).
VV can significantly improve when customized vestibular rehabilitation exercises are combined with exposure to optokinetic stimuli. Virtual reality (VR), which immerses patients in realistic, visually challenging environments, has also been suggested as an adjunct to VR to improve VV symptoms.
This study compared the responses of sixteen patients with unilateral peripheral vestibular disorder randomly allocated to a VR regime incorporating exposure to a static (Group S) or dynamic (Group D) VR environment. Subjects received a vestibular exercise program to practice on days not attending clinic. A third (Group D1) completed both the static and dynamic VR training.
Results showed significant between- group differences were noted between Groups D (p = 0.001) and D1 (p = 0.03) compared to Group S for VV symptoms with the former two showing a significant 59.2% and 25.8% improvement respectively compared to 1.6% for the latter. Depression scores improved only for Group S.
Overall exposure to dynamic VR environments should be considered as a useful adjunct to vestibular rehabilitation programs for patients with peripheral vestibular disorders and VV symptoms. > From: Pavlou et al., J Vestib Res 22 (2012) 273–281.
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