Validity of a Fully-Immersive VR-Based Version of the Box and Blocks Test for Upper Limb Function Assessment in Parkinson's Disease

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In recent decades, gaming technology has been accepted as a feasible method for complementing traditional clinical practice, especially in neurorehabilitation; however, the viability of using 3D Virtual Reality (VR) for the assessment of upper limb motor function has not been fully explored. For that purpose, we developed a VR-based version of the Box and Blocks Test (BBT), a clinical test for the assessment of manual dexterity, as an automated alternative to the classical procedure. Our VR-based BBT (VR-BBT) integrates the traditional BBT mechanics into gameplay using the Leap Motion Controller (LMC) to capture the user’s hand motion and the Oculus Rift headset to provide a fully immersive experience. This paper focuses on evaluating the validity of our VR-BBT to reliably measure the manual dexterity in a sample of patients with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). For this study, a group of twenty individuals in a mild to moderate stage of PD were recruited. Participants were asked to perform the physical BBT (once) and our proposed VR-BBT (twice) system,separately. Correlation analysis of collected data was carried out. Statistical analysis proved that the performance data collected by the VR-BBT significantly correlated with the conventional assessment of the BBT. The VR-BBT scores have shown a significant association with PD severity measured by the Hoehn and Yahr scale. This fact suggests that the VR-BBT could be used as a reliable indicator for health improvements in patients with PD. Finally, the VR-BBT system presented high usability and acceptability rated by clinicians and patients.
Automatic, Assessment, Manual dexterity, Parkinson’s disease, Neurological rehabilitation, Virtual reality, Games for health
Bibliographic citation
Oña, E. D., Jardón, A., Cuesta-Gómez, A., Sánchez-Herrera-Baeza, P., Cano-de-la-Cuerda, R., and Balaguer, C. (2020). Validity of a Fully-Immersive VR-Based Version of the Box and Blocks Test for Upper Limb Function Assessment in Parkinson’s Disease. Sensors, 20(10), 2773.