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Background: Rehabilitation programs designed to develop skill in upper extremity (UE) function after stroke require progressive practice that engage and challenge the learner. Virtual realty (VR) provides a unique environment where the presentation of stimuli can be controlled systematically for optimal challenge by adapting task difficulty as performance improves. We describe four VR tasks that were developed and tested to improve arm and hand movement skills for individuals with hemiparesis. Methods: Two participants with chronic post-stroke paresis and different levels of motor severity attended 12 training sessions lasting 1 to 2 hours each over a 3-week period. Behavior measures and questionnaires were administered pre-, mid-, and post-training. Results: Both participants improved VR task performance across sessions. The less impaired participant averaged more time on task, practiced a greater number of blocks per session, and progressed at a faster rate over sessions than the more impaired participant. Impairment level did not change but both participants improved functional ability after training. The less impaired participant increased the number of blocks moved on the Box & Blocks test while the more impaired participant achieved 4 more items on the Functional Test of the Hemiparetic UE. Conclusion: Two participants with differing motor severity were able to engage in VR based practice and improve performance over 12 training sessions. We were able to successfully provide individualized, progressive practice based on each participant's level of movement ability and rate of performance improvement.

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APA Citation

Stewart, J. C., Yeh, S.-C., Jung, Y., Yoon, H., Whitford, M., Chen, S.-Y., Li, L., McLaughlin, M., Rizzo, A., & Winstein, C. J. (2007). Intervention to enhance skilled arm and hand movements after stroke: A feasibility study using a new virtual reality system. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 4(1).


© 2007 Stewart et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cite