Use of Virtual Reality Feedback for Patients with Chronic Neck Pain and Kinesiophobia

This study examined how individuals with and without neck pain performed exercises under the influence of altered visual feedback in virtual reality. Chronic neck pain (n = 9) and asymptomatic (n = 10) individuals were recruited for this cross-sectional study. Participants performed head rotations while receiving programmatically manipulated visual feedback from a head-mounted virtual reality display. The main outcome measure was the control-display gain (ratio between actual head rotation angle and visual rotation angle displayed) recorded at the just-noticeable difference. Actual head rotation angles were measured for different gains. Detection of the manipulated visual feedback was affected by gain. The just-noticeable gain for asymptomatic individuals, below and above unity gain, was 0.903 and 1.159, respectively. Head rotation angle decreased or increased 5.45° for every 0.1 increase or decrease in gain, respectively. The just-noticeable gain for chronic pain individuals, below unity gain, was 0.950. The head rotation angle increased 4.29° for every 0.1 decrease in gain. On average, chronic pain individuals reported that neck rotation was feasible for 84% of the unity gain trials, 66% of the individual just-noticeable difference trials, and 50% of the “nudged” just-noticeable difference trials. This research demonstrated that virtual reality may be useful for promoting the desired outcome of increased range of motion in neck rehabilitation exercises by altering visual feedback.
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