Virtual reality (VR) technology enables evaluation and practice of specific skills in a motivating, user-friendly and safe way. The implementation of virtual game environments within clinical settings has increased substantially in recent years. However, the psychometric properties and feasibility of many applications have not been fully elucidated. The Meal-Maker is a game-like virtual kitchen environment developed within the GestureTek (www.gesturetek.com) video-capture IREX VR system. It was created as a platform for evaluation and treatment of specific aspects of functional performance for children with neurological dysfunction including cerebral palsy (CP). The objective of this study was to assess the usability of the Meal-Maker and to determine its ability to distinguish between performance by typically developed children and those with CP. Sixteen children with CP and the same number of typically developing children ranging in age from six to twelve were tested. Children experienced four different virtual environments using the IREX VR system: two virtual games (Birds & Balls, Soccer), a virtual supermarket (VMall) and the Meal-Maker. Both groups responded similarly to items on the Short Feedback Questionnaire (SFQChild) (e.g. enjoyment, sense of presence and amount of success), but differed significantly in performance outcomes in all environments. For example, children with CP were significantly slower than their peers while preparing virtual meals (U = 26.00, p < 0.01) and made significantly more mistakes (U = 22.5, p < 0.01) such as selecting irrelevant items or omitting relevant ones. The study results highlight the potential of using VR simulations, such as the Meal-Maker, to assess performance and functional ability in children with CP.
- Cerebral palsy
- Virtual reality
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Professions (miscellaneous)
- Developmental and Educational Psychology