The following is a summary of the “Limb apraxia in individuals with multiple sclerosis: Is there a role of semi-immersive virtual reality in treating the Cinderella of neuropsychology?,” published in the January 2023 issue of Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders by Maggio, et al.
Patients’ quality of life, especially those with multiple sclerosis, can be significantly impacted by limb apraxia, an acquired cognitive-motor condition characterized by spatial and temporal disarray of limb motions (MS). Despite the promising role virtual reality (VR) can play in improving cognitive and motor functions, very few studies have focused on VR’s application in rehabilitating upper limb apraxia. This research aims to determine whether virtual reality (VR) training might alleviate ideomotor apraxia in the upper limbs of MS patients.
A total of 106 patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis who visited our Robotic and Behavioral Neurorehabilitation Service between March 2019 and February 2020 were enrolled in this study and randomly assigned to one of two groups: the control group (CG: 53 patients) underwent conventional therapy, and the experimental group (EG: 53 patients) underwent training using semi-immersive virtual reality. Mental exercises were performed on all patients thrice weekly for 8 weeks. Participants underwent a dedicated neuropsychological evaluation at both the beginning (T0) and end (T1) of the rehabilitation program (T1).
Significant gains were made in global cognitive functions following the VR training, particularly in constructive and ideomotor apraxia. However, the CG was only able to improve ideomotor apraxia significantly. Not only that but by the end of the training, we found that people’s moods had lifted exclusively in the EG. The current research shows that apraxia, a cognitive issue frequently overlooked in MS patients, can be effectively treated using VR therapy. There has to be more research with longer follow-up periods to verify the effectiveness of this intriguing technique.
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