Background: Motor neglect occurs in patients with chronic pain conditions. Virtual environments (VE) help rehabilitation through biofeedback and improving motivation. Aim: To assess the feasibility of a VE for patients with motor neglect with chronic pain. Methods: 10 subjects with chronic pain (Fibromyalgia, Sciatica, and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) underwent a treadmill task three times per week for two weeks. Groups were randomized to receive real-time biofeedback from the VE (intervention) or shown still images (control). Primary outcomes were: (i) distance walked at baseline compared to the final 5 min cycle of week 2; (ii) the Lower Extremity Functional Index (LEFI) questionnaire. A satisfaction questionnaire was used. Follow up was to 24 weeks. Results: Total distance walked was significantly higher in the intervention group (p < 0.05), and 33% (2/6) of the intervention group had a clinically important LEFI improvement compared to 0/4 in the control group at week 2. No secondary outcome measures demonstrated any significant differences. The intervention received high satisfaction scores, significantly greater than the control group at week 24. No harms were recorded. Discussion: This feasibility study showed that VE and treadmill-walking improved walking distances and function for subjects with motor neglect. This is a promising novel approach and requires further validation through larger study.
- Clinical trial
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Motor neglect
- Virtual environment