Background: Patients with Parkinson's disease often suffer from reduced mobility due to impaired postural control. Balance exercises form an integral part of rehabilitative therapy but the effectiveness of existing interventions is limited. Recent technological advances allow for providing enhanced visual feedback in the context of computer games, which provide an attractive alternative to conventional therapy. The objective of this randomized clinical trial is to investigate whether a training program capitalizing on virtual-reality-based visual feedback is more effective than an equally-dosed conventional training in improving standing balance performance in patients with Parkinson's disease.Methods/design: Patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease will participate in a five-week balance training program comprising ten treatment sessions of 60 minutes each. Participants will be randomly allocated to (1) an experimental group that will receive balance training using augmented visual feedback, or (2) a control group that will receive balance training in accordance with current physical therapy guidelines for Parkinson's disease patients. Training sessions consist of task-specific exercises that are organized as a series of workstations. Assessments will take place before training, at six weeks, and at twelve weeks follow-up. The functional reach test will serve as the primary outcome measure supplemented by comprehensive assessments of functional balance, posturography, and electroencephalography.Discussion: We hypothesize that balance training based on visual feedback will show greater improvements on standing balance performance than conventional balance training. In addition, we expect that learning new control strategies will be visible in the co-registered posturographic recordings but also through changes in functional connectivity.Trial registration: ISRCTN: ISRCTN47046299. © 2013 van den Heuvel et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
van den Heuvel, M. R. C., van Wegen, E. E. H., de Goede, C. J. T., Burgers-Pots, I. A. L., Beek, P. J., Daffertshofer, A., & Kwakkel, G. (2013). The effects of augmented visual feedback during balance training in Parkinson’s disease: study design of a randomized clinical trial. BMC Neurology, 13, . https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2377-13-137