Improvement in Balance With a Cost-Effective Virtual Environment
Falling is a major risk to the health and quality of life for the elderly and for those with sensorimotor impairment. Virtual environments (VE) have been investigated in the past for their potential for vestibular and balance rehabilitation as well as with stroke patients. In this study, a virtual reality game was evaluated with respect to its effect on the user for improving scores on standard balance tests. The environment focuses on lateral movement, which is a major cause of falls in the elderly, and poses challenges for better posture control on the user. Two levels of difficulty were used in the training, and immediate feedback was provided. Training was conducted in nine sessions over the course of three weeks. Preliminary results indicate that the subjects were able to improve their performance on these balance tests after training. This suggests that this virtual reality environment could be used in balance rehabilitation and to improve posture control in elderly. It is particularly suitable for home based training. Future studies will be performed to validate the program with specific impairment conditions.