Virtual Reality-Based Training to Improve Obstacle-Crossing Performance and Dynamic Balance in Patients With Parkinson's Disease

Ying Yi Liao, Yea Ru Yang, Shih Jung Cheng, Yih Ru Wu, Jong Ling Fuh, Ray Yau Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Background. Obstacle crossing is a balance-challenging task and can cause falls in people with Parkinson's disease (PD). However, programs for people with PD that effectively target obstacle crossing and dynamic balance have not been established. Objective. To examine the effects of virtual reality-based exercise on obstacle crossing performance and dynamic balance in participants with PD. Methods. Thirty-six participants with a diagnosis of PD (Hoehn and Yahr score ranging 1 to 3) were randomly assigned to one of three groups. In the exercise groups, participants received virtual reality-based Wii Fit exercise (VRWii group) or traditional exercise (TE group) for 45 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of treadmill training in each session for a total of 12 sessions over 6 weeks. Participants in the control group received no structured exercise program. Primary outcomes included obstacle crossing performance (crossing velocity, stride length, and vertical toe obstacle clearance) and dynamic balance (maximal excursion, movement velocity, and directional control measured by the limits-of-stability test). Secondary outcomes included sensory organization test (SOT), Parkinson's Disease Questionnaire (PDQ39), fall efficacy scale (FES-I), and timed up and go test (TUG). All outcomes were assessed at baseline, after training, and at 1-month follow-up. Results. The VRWii group showed greater improvement in obstacle crossing velocity, crossing stride length, dynamic balance, SOT, TUG, FES-I, and PDQ39 than the control group. VRWii training also resulted in greater improvement in movement velocity of limits-of-stability test than TE training. Conclusions. VRWii training significantly improved obstacle crossing performance and dynamic balance, supporting implementation of VRWii training in participants with PD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-667
Number of pages10
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number7
StatePublished - 23 Aug 2015


  • Balance
  • Exercise training
  • Obstacle crossing
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Virtual reality


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