Cerebral Palsy is the name for a group of lifelong conditions that affect movement and co-ordination, caused by a problem with the brain that occurs before, during or soon after birth. Cerebral palsy accounts for 45% of all primary childhood disability causes based on the nervous system diseases category. The total incidence is 2.5 cases per every 1000 newborn children.
The children rehabilitation problem concerning the patients with cerebral palsy is universal. Research, development and implementation of new multidisciplinary technologies that can increase rehabilitation effectiveness and improve the quality of life for children with cerebral palsy is needed. As the computer technologies develop, it is possible to implement the best advanced digital solutions in the children rehabilitation treatment that will enhance and improve the classic approaches to rehabilitation. As the patients are children it is also important to apply motivational gaming software in order to further improv rehabilitation process.
At the end of 2018, the research and development works were initiated in order to investigate the possibilities to use virtual reality technologies in Cerebral Palsy rehabilitation. The R&D initiative is conducted at the Minsk City Center for Medical Children Rehabilitation of Neuropsychiatric Diseases.
The research work includes the following participants:
▪ The Parallel (GKeyLab Holdings Ltd) that develops VR software solution with an algorithm for collecting and processing user data, including bio-data (a device is currently being developed that allows recording brain electrical activity of a patient). As part of the initiative the company also provides technical equipment, installation and maintenance.
▪ The Department of Pediatric Neurology from the Belarusian Medical Academy of Postgraduate Education that provides scientific grounding and support. It assists in the development of a special scientific method, research design and clinical diagnostic criteria for evaluating the method effectiveness, as well as scientific results analysis and providing recommendations for their practical application.
▪ Minsk City Center for Medical Children Rehabilitation with Neuropsychiatric Diseases has been conducting patients’ rehabilitation for children with cerebral palsy for almost 40 years and having great experience in providing children’s therapies it
supports R&D process by engaging in the practical implementation of the project.
The multidisciplinary project team includes experts from all relevant spheres such as neurologists, functional diagnostics, psychologists, physical rehabilitation therapists.
Currently, a pilot solution is implemented with the use of virtual technologies in rehabilitation of 30 patients (the main group) and compared to the control group. The research is conducted strictly in accordance with the contemporary scientific research requirements. The parents and legal representatives of all participants have signed the consent form. The research was approved by a local bioethics committee of Minsk City Center for Medical Children Rehabilitation with Neuropsychiatric Diseases. Each and every participant is observed and all the data is recorded into a research protocol. The hardware control methods are used to objectify the rehabilitation results. They include evoked potential, posturography, computerized motion analysis and electroencephalography (EEG). The health and safety of the research process is ensured. Prospective observation of the research participants’ motion functions dynamics is provided.
The interim results of the research show significant improvements.
It is forecasted this method can have an economic as well as social impact, since it allows the usage not only in the hospitals, but also on outpatient basis. Also it provides the possibility to be under supervision of attending physician remotely, which may lead to a quality improvement of rehabilitation efficiency and decrease in associated rehabilitation costs.