Power of combined modern technology: Multitouch-multiuser tabletops and virtual reality platforms (PowerVR) in social communication skills training for children with neurological disorders: A pilot study

New technologies such as multitouch-multiuser tabletops (MMT) and virtual reality (VR) provide modern neurorehabilitation options. The aim was to describe the structure of acquired social communication deficits in children with neurological disorders (ND) and implement a new PowerVR method- combined MMT/VR interfaces, into social neurorehabilitation. The study was designed based on the Structured Social Rehabilitation Model. Sixty children with ND aged 8-13 years participated: 28 with epilepsy, 10 with traumatic brain injury (TBI), 3 with tic disorders, 3 with stroke, 16 with other ND. A total of 16 patients (M = 10.5 years, SD = 1.8) completed trainings with pre- and post-intervention assessments. Forty-four patients participated in base-level assessment (M = 10.2 years, SD = 1.6). Two age-matched patients practiced in pairs on MMT and individually in VR. The most impaired components in patients were theory of mind (ToM) skills. A total of 64% of children presented behavioral problems related to executive dysfunctions. Patients lacked conflict resolution (median 38% out of 100%) and empathy skills (25%). After trainings, communication and cooperation, pragmatics, social attention, conflict resolution, and empathy skills improved. Patients’ general verbal ToM and understanding false beliefs (p < .005) increased. Children’s ability to start conversations improved; they experienced less bullying. Findings suggest that the combined technology-based intervention PowerVR offers increased power for multicomponent training of socio-emotional skills.

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