Virtual reality trial to help children with DMD engage in physiotherapy at DMD Hub site

A team of researchers and clinicians from Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Leeds Teaching NHS Trust are developing an immersive virtual reality (VR) platform to help children living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) engage in physiotherapy exercises.

  • 6 Aug 2021

Children with DMD are encouraged to undertake a daily stretching programme to help prolong muscle function, but it can be difficult to maintain engagement, and this can lead to complications, reduced function and a poorer long-term prognosis. 

This project, which is funded by the Children’s Hospital Charity, aims to develop fun, interactive immersive VR play scenarios that will help distract children from the discomfort and labour involved in performing repeated exercises. 

The team is working with children aged 5-10 years old to develop VR games that will improve range of movement, motor function, decrease anxiety and improve quality of life.  

The trial will be taking place at Leeds and Sheffield. As a direct result of DMD Hub support and Duchenne UK funding, Leeds has been able to raise its profile in neuromuscular research, and was involved in this trial from inception, working with Sheffield to develop the study design and to make it specific for DMD boys. Lindsay Pallant, Research Physiotherapist, and Dr Christina Martos Lopez, DMD Hub Clinical Research Fellow, have been key in making the trial a reality, and we are thrilled that the Leeds team are bringing the latest technological developments to improve the care of boys and young men with DMD.

This study is an example of the DMD Hub’s commitment to support a range of innovative research, not only to treat the symptoms and causes of DMD but to transform patients’ quality of life.

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