Integration of motor learning principles into virtual reality interventions for individuals with cerebral palsy: Systematic review

Marika Demers, Karen Fung, Sandeep K. Subramanian, Martin Lemay, Maxime T. Robert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: Increasing evidence supports the use of virtual reality systems to improve upper limb motor functions in individuals with cerebral palsy. While virtual reality offers the possibility to include key components to promote motor learning, it remains unclear if and how motor learning principles are incorporated into the development of rehabilitation interventions using virtual reality. Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the extent to which motor learning principles are integrated into virtual reality interventions targeting upper limb function in individuals with cerebral palsy. Methods: A systematic review was conducted according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. The search was performed in 10 databases using a combination of keywords related to cerebral palsy, virtual reality, video games, and rehabilitation. Studies were divided into 2 categories: commercial video game platforms and devices and custom virtual reality systems. Study quality was assessed using the modified Downs and Black checklist. Results: The initial search yielded 1497 publications. A total of 26 studies from 30 publications were included, with most studies classified as "fair"according to the modified Downs and Black checklist. The majority of studies provided enhanced feedback and variable practice and used functionally relevant and motivating virtual tasks. The dosage varied greatly (total training time ranged from 300 to 3360 minutes), with only 6 studies reporting the number of movement repetitions per session. The difficulty progression and the assessment of skills retention and transfer were poorly incorporated, especially for the commercial video games. Conclusions: Motor learning principles should be better integrated into the development of future virtual reality systems for optimal upper limb motor recovery in individuals with cerebral palsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere23822
JournalJMIR Serious Games
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Active video games
  • Brain damage
  • Feedback
  • Learning
  • Upper limb
  • Virtual rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Biomedical Engineering


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