Patients with chronic shoulder pain have the potential to experience improved range of motion using mirroring techniques in a Virtual Reality (VR) environment, according to study conducted by Karuna Labs.

The study evaluated 15 patients with chronic shoulder pain and measured their range of motion on three planes for each arm: shoulder flexion (arms straight above the head), shoulder scaption (arms out to the sides), and shoulder abduction (arms straight out and away from the body).

Karuna Labs performed the study to measure the effects on patients using its Virtual Embodiment Therapy technology, which is designed to apply the following:

  • Graded Motor Imagery
  • Corrective exercises from physical therapy which focus on performing activities of daily living
  • Real-time position tracking

A paired T-test revealed a significant decrease in range of motion when the non-affected arm was mirrored onto the painful arm (moving the non-affected arm but seeing painful side move) for shoulder flexion (t = 2.761, P = 0.019) and for shoulder scaption (t = 3.182, P = 0.009).

No significant effect was observed for shoulder abduction when the non-affected arm was mirrored onto painful arm (t = ?0.04, P = 0.96). These results indicate that range of motion for flexion and scaption is reduced in a non-affected limb when patients perceive the movement as occurring in their painful limb, a media release from Karuna Labs explains.

Mirror Visual Feedback (MVF), originally developed to help with neuropathic pain, in VR may help influence the function of a non-affected limb if a patient perceives that function as occurring in a painful limb, the study suggests.

“These study results using our proprietary VR technology have immense implications for rehabilitation in patients suffering from chronic pain,” Lincoln Nguyen, CEO of Karuna Labs, says in the release.

“Not only does our Virtual Embodiment Training provide measurable improvements in range of motion for patients with chronic pain, but it may have the potential to become a safe alternative to surgery and opioids upon further study.”

[Source(s): Karuna Labs, PR Newswire]