Embodied Virtual Reality Mirror Visual Feedback for an Adult with Cerebral Palsy

Bullock, K., Won, A.S., Bailenson, J., Muccini, J., Paul, M., Stewart, H.B. (2021). Embodied Virtual Reality Mirror Visual Feedback for an Adult with Cerebral Palsy. American Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. Vol. 9, No. 2, 2021, pp. 59-67. doi: 10.11648/j.ajpn.20210902.16


Virtual reality-assisted physical therapy and mirror visual feedback (MVF) are promising treatments for children with cerebral palsy (CP). However, thus far, neither interventions’ use has been reported in adults with CP. The following case report examines the safety and feasibility of using customized virtual reality (VR) interventions to deliver MVF to an adult with hemiplegic CP and right sided pain, weakness, and dystonias. A weekly intervention was delivered in an ambulatory care setting over one year. Self-reported pain, motor function, anxiety, disability, quality of life and depression were monitored weekly. The treatment was acceptable and well tolerated with no instances of cybersickness. The intervention showed immediate and consistent pain relief during treatment, similar to those reported in other studies, with the percentage of pain relief during sessions ranging from 6.25% to 38.5%. Motor function, including range of motion, control, and dexterity, were improved per patient report. However, the duration of pain relief lasted only 2–4 days between sessions. The authors believe that the present findings may inspire others treating adults and children with CP to explore the use of MVF and VR to enhance rehabilitation with an emphasis on adapting technologies for home use. Further implications of these findings for the future are discussed.