Faculty Advisor(s)

Maureen Rinehimer



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Background: Cerebral palsy is a neuromuscular disorder that affects a person’s motor control and balance. These individuals have difficulty co-contracting musculature resulting in decreased trunk control, hyper- or hypotonia, lack of body coordination, and sudden contractions when attempting to move. A recent technology that is beginning to be explored within the therapy world is the use of virtual reality (VR) to treat those with cerebral palsy.

Objective: The objective is to evaluate the effect of virtual reality technology with children who have cerebral palsy by focusing on motor control such as: functional reach, functional movements to promote independence, sitting balance, and trunk control.

Design: This will be a randomized case study research design.

Setting: The study will take place at Misericordia University’s Pro Bono Clinic.

Participants: One participant will be recruited through purposive sampling between the ages of 13 to 17 years old with a diagnosis of spastic, ataxic cerebral palsy.

Intervention: The participant will follow the study protocol consisting of ten minutes of manual stretching, ten minutes of postural control, thirty minutes of virtual reality, and ten minutes of postural analysis for a total of sixty minutes per session. This study will consist of twenty four sessions with an addition of three warm-up sessions to allow the participant to become acquainted with virtual reality.

Measurements: Three outcome measures will be used to measure functional independence, functional reach, sitting balance, and trunk control: Gross Motor Function Measure (GMFM), Trunk Control Measurement Scale (TCMS), and the Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instrument (PODCI). Data will be collected prior to beginning the virtual reality protocol, halfway through the twenty four sessions, and after all twenty four sessions are completed.

Conclusion: The results of this study may contribute to an improved treatment method for children with spastic, ataxic cerebral palsy to improve overall quality of life.

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Document Type



Physical Therapy


trunk control, sitting balance, functional reach, functional independence, physical therapy, sitting posture, pediatric


Physical Therapy

Case Study: Effects of Virtual Reality on Motor Control with a Child Diagnosed with Spastic Ataxic Cerebral Palsy