Illusion-enhanced Virtual Reality Exercise for Neck Pain : A Replicated Single Case Series
Harvie, Daniel; Smith, Ross; Moseley, G. Lorimer; Meulders, Ann; Michiels, Bart; Sterling, Michele
Objectives: Body illusions have shown promise in treating some chronic pain conditions. We hypothesized that neck exercises performed in virtual reality (VR) with visual feedback of rotation amplified would reduce persistent neck pain.
Methods: In a multiple-baseline replicated single case series, 8 blinded individuals with persistent neck pain completed a 4-phase intervention (initial n=12, 4 dropouts): (1) “baseline”; (2) “VR” during which participants performed rotation exercises in VR with no manipulation of visual feedback; (3) “VR enhanced” during which identical exercises were performed but visual feedback overstated the range of motion being performed; (4) “follow-up.” Primary outcomes were twice-daily measures of pain-free range of motion and pain intensity. During the baseline and follow-up phases, measures were taken but no intervention took place.
Results: No differences in primary outcomes were found between VR and baseline, VR enhanced and VR, or VR enhanced and follow-up.
Discussion: Our hypothesis, that neck exercises performed in VR with visual feedback of rotation amplified, would reduce persistent neck pain was not supported. Possible explanations and future directions are discussed.