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Stroke is a major cause of lasting disability worldwide. Virtual reality (VR) training has been introduced as a means of increasing the effectiveness of rehabilitation by providing large doses of task-related training with many repetitions and different modes of feedback. As VR is increasingly used in neurorehabilitation, cost considerations are important.
A cost-analysis was conducted based on the Virtual Reality for Upper Extremity in Subacute stroke (VIRTUES) trial, a recent international randomized controlled observer-blind multicenter trial. Average therapist time required per therapy session may differ between VR and conventional training (CT), leading to potential cost savings due to a therapist being able to supervise more than one patient at a time. Exploratory cost analyses are presented to explore such assumptions.
Based on our calculations, VR incurs extra costs as compared with CT when the same amount of therapist contact is provided, as was the case in VIRTUES. However, the exploratory analyses demonstrated that these costs may be rapidly counterbalanced when time for therapist supervision can be reduced.
Extra costs for VR can be outweighed by reduced therapist time and decreasing VR system costs in the nearer future, and not least by increased patient motivation.
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