Virtual-Reality Performance-Based Assessment of Cognitive Functions in Adult Patients With Acquired Brain Injury: A Scoping Review
Corti, C., Oprandi, M. C., Chevignard, M., Jansari, A., Oldrati, V., Ferrari, E., Martignoni, M., Romaniello, R., Strazzer, S., and Bardoni, A.
Individuals with acquired brain injury (ABI) commonly present with impairments in cognitive abilities. As these competencies seem to be predictive of patients' abilities to reintegrate into the everyday settings, it is crucial to assess them properly. However, previous research has indicated that patients may perform relatively well on standard tests of cognitive functioning, but may nonetheless encounter significant difficulties in organizing and executing everyday tasks. In order to overcome this issue, virtual reality (VR) methods have been introduced in clinical practice with the aim of creating assessments that simulate real-world activities and thus, provide a clearer picture of patients' functioning in everyday settings. This review offers an overview of VR assessment tools described in the scientific literature between 2010 and 2019. Overall, 38 relevant records describing 31 different tools were found. Among these tools, 16 assessed executive functions and prospective memory, while the other 15 assessed visuo-spatial abilities. Although promising results have been reported, our analysis indicated that about half of the tools deliver tasks that differ from everyday activities, thus limiting the generalizability of patients' performance to the real-world. Moreover, a variety of methodological shortfalls related to study Internal and External Validity have been highlighted, which hamper the possibility of drawing definite recommendations on tool choice. These limitations suggest the importance of putting considerable efforts into the improvement or development of VR tools for patients with ABI for both research and clinical purposes, considering the great potential of this form of assessment.