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Letters   |    
Virtual Reality and Down Syndrome Rehabilitation
Mona Delavarian; G. Ali Afrooz; Shahriar Gharibzadeh
The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2012;24:E7-E7. doi:10.1176/appi.neuropsych.11050101

Down syndrome (DS) is the most common human genetic disorder.1 More than 99% of the individuals with DS have an extra copy of the entire chromosome 21. Generally they have a set of mental traits such as behavioral and cognitive deficits, learning disabilities, delay in speech and language skills and in working memory, delays in gross and fine motor skills and many other features.1

Short-term memory performances, long-term memory and visuo-perceptual abilities are impaired because of dysfunction of different parts of the brain. Overall, studies show a deficient brain organization in DS.2

One of the main goals of training in DS, is improving skills (such as: attention, perception, counting, obeying rules, and communication) for adult life. Sensory integration, neurodevelopmental therapy and vestibular stimulation are some effective rehabilitation methods for DS children3 but one of the most important problems during DS rehabilitation process is the lack of motivation of these children that interferes the process of education and rehabilitation. It was proved that using Virtual Reality (VR) technology, an immersive interactive three-dimensional (3D) computer environment, can improve motivation and self efficacy of disabled children such as cerebral palsy (CP).4 This technology improved motor performances and mobility skills, promoted learning, and increased visual perception and executive functions in such cases.5 Computer has been used to improve social communications in DS,6 but no study has been done on the effect of VR in rehabilitation of this syndrome.

We suggest using virtual reality technology for educating and rehabilitating of DS children besides traditional methods.

This colorful environment would be fantastic for DS children. Moreover, the education and rehabilitation could be adjusted to the needs and abilities of each person.4 The complexity and the degree of exposure to the multiple stimuli could be increased gradually, based on motivation and cooperation of the patient. It must be noted that the educational program in this space could be like a game. Surely, experimental studies are needed to verify our hypothesis about the effectiveness of VR in DS.

Lubec  G;  Engidawork  E:  The brain in Down syndrome (TRISOMY 21).  J Neurol 2002; 249:1347–1356
[CrossRef]
 
Menghini  D;  Costanzo  F;  Vicari  S:  Relationship between brain and cognitive processes in Down syndrome.  Behav Genet 2011; 41:381–393
[CrossRef]
 
Uyanik  M;  Bumin  G;  Kayihan  H:  Comparison of different therapy approaches in children with Down syndrome.  Pediatr Int 2003; 45:68–73
[CrossRef]
 
Reid  DT:  Benefits of a virtual play rehabilitation environment for children with cerebral palsy on perceptions of self-efficacy: a pilot study.  Pediatr Rehabil 2002; 5:141–148
 
Aukstakalnis  S;  Blatner  D:  F.Roth S: silicon mirage: the art and science of virtual reality, amazon   Peachpit Pr, 1992., 300 pp
 
Almeida  AMP: Ramos F M S: Collaborative networked framework for the rehabilitation of children with Down’s syndrome. Proc. 3rd Intl Conf. Disability, Virtual Reality & Assoc. Tech 2000.
 
References Container
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References

Lubec  G;  Engidawork  E:  The brain in Down syndrome (TRISOMY 21).  J Neurol 2002; 249:1347–1356
[CrossRef]
 
Menghini  D;  Costanzo  F;  Vicari  S:  Relationship between brain and cognitive processes in Down syndrome.  Behav Genet 2011; 41:381–393
[CrossRef]
 
Uyanik  M;  Bumin  G;  Kayihan  H:  Comparison of different therapy approaches in children with Down syndrome.  Pediatr Int 2003; 45:68–73
[CrossRef]
 
Reid  DT:  Benefits of a virtual play rehabilitation environment for children with cerebral palsy on perceptions of self-efficacy: a pilot study.  Pediatr Rehabil 2002; 5:141–148
 
Aukstakalnis  S;  Blatner  D:  F.Roth S: silicon mirage: the art and science of virtual reality, amazon   Peachpit Pr, 1992., 300 pp
 
Almeida  AMP: Ramos F M S: Collaborative networked framework for the rehabilitation of children with Down’s syndrome. Proc. 3rd Intl Conf. Disability, Virtual Reality & Assoc. Tech 2000.
 
References Container
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