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Effectiveness of Executive Functions Training Within a Virtual Supermarket for Adults With Traumatic Brain Injury: A Pilot Study

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6 Author(s)
Jacoby, M. ; Depts. of Occupational Therapy & Traumatic Brain Injury, Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hosp., Ra'anana, Israel ; Averbuch, S. ; Sacher, Y. ; Katz, N.
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Impairments of executive functions (EF) significantly affect the ability to lead an independent lifestyle. Virtual environments offer a way to rehabilitate EF due to their ecological validity. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine the effectiveness of a virtual reality (VR) supermarket (VMall) for treatment of EF in patients with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), compared to conventional occupational therapy (OT), in order to provide initial data regarding the effect sizes for calculation of sample size as well as to establish an intervention protocol for future Randomized Control Trials (RCTs). Twelve men and women, aged 19-55 years, who had TBI resulting in EF impairments participated in this study. Outcome measures were the Multiple Errands Test-Simplified Version (MET-SV) and the Executive Function Performance Test (EFPT). Cognitive treatment provided to both groups was based on the same principles; the participants in the experimental group received 10 45-min VR-based treatment sessions and the control group participants received 10 sessions of occupational therapy cognitive retraining without VR. Baseline performance prior to intervention showed no statistically significant differences between groups. Most participants improved their performance after therapy. Following a Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons, no significant between or within group differences were found, Nevertheless, large effect sizes (0.51) for the percent (%) relative change of the MET-SV total score and EFPT total score after intervention were high in favor of the experimental group indicating a larger improvement in EF. Based on this pilot study, results show a trend towards an advantage to VR therapy compared to cognitive retraining OT without VR, as it leads to greater improvement in complex everyday activities.

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Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:21 ,  Issue: 2 )