In Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 17(1), 78.
Paper-and-pencil tasks are still widely used for cognitive rehabilitation despite the proliferation of new computer-based methods, like VR-based simulations of ADL’s. Studies have established construct validity of VR assessment tools with their paper-and-pencil version by demonstrating significant associations with their traditional construct-driven measures. However, VR rehabilitation intervention tools are mostly developed to include mechanisms such as personalization and adaptation, elements that are disregarded in their paper-and-pencil counterparts, which is a strong limitation of comparison studies. Here we compare the clinical impact of a personalized and adapted paper-and-pencil training and a content equivalent and more ecologically valid VR-based ADL’s simulation.
We have performed a trial with 36 stroke patients comparing Reh@City v2.0 (adaptive cognitive training through everyday tasks VR simulations) with Task Generator (TG: content equivalent and adaptive paper-and-pencil training). The intervention comprised 12 sessions, with a neuropsychological assessment pre, post-intervention and follow-up, having as primary outcomes: general cognitive functioning (assessed by the Montreal Cognitive Assessment – MoCA), attention, memory, executive functions and language specific domains.
A within-group analysis revealed that the Reh@City v2.0 improved general cognitive functioning, attention, visuospatial ability and executive functions. These improvements generalized to verbal memory, processing speed and self-perceived cognitive deficits specific assessments. TG only improved in orientation domain on the MoCA, and specific processing speed and verbal memory outcomes. However, at follow-up, processing speed and verbal memory improvements were maintained, and a new one was revealed in language. A between-groups analysis revealed Reh@City v2.0 superiority in general cognitive functioning, visuospatial ability, and executive functions on the MoCA.
The Reh@City v2.0 intervention with higher ecological validity revealed higher effectiveness with improvements in different cognitive domains and self-perceived cognitive deficits in everyday life, and the TG intervention retained fewer cognitive gains for longer.
The trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT02857803. Registered 5 August 2016, .
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