Balance Rehabilitation with VR


I introduced our VR balance assessment platform in my last blog post. This time, I am going to talk about a balance training platform which focuses on training patients to keep balance in complex visual environments. They are both from the collaboration between our lab and Prof. Anat Lubetzky in the Physical Therapy Department.

These two platforms both use VR (Oculus Rift and HTC Vive) as the display method to provide immersive and engaging visual contexts. The assessment platform focuses on obtaining the data of head movement and weight shifting from healthy young adults. With proper data analysis, we can build the intrinsic connections between balance and reactions when healthy young adults experience a changing environment such as the shaking star wall and the flying baseball. It can identify the underlying domain leading to the balance problem and further reveal the reason for the cause.

Our training platform provides a balance exercise which has more immersive experiences, more enjoyment, and less difficulty compared with traditional rehabilitation. Falling typically happens when multitasking or environments are changing, especially when there are unexpected events. Patients with balance problems could feel particularly challenging to keep steady in busy and complex environments since they may deal with high levels of anxiety associated with loss of balance. To help patients conquer anxiety in these situations and to improve the quality of their lives, our training platform builds two scenes: the airport scene and the subway scene. These scenes simulate the scenarios in social life that people can easily encounter a massive crowd.

The airport scene is a large and open space which simulates a real airport and includes a various amount of human characters walking in different directions.

The subway scene is a closed space which simulates the Grand Central subway station in New York City. It also has the adjustable amount of human characters walking in different directions.


The below is an exciting update from Anat on a patient who used our training platform:
“After a few weeks of work, yesterday she reported that she was able to climb up a ladder, look up and reach to something and felt confident and did not lose her balance. This is a patient who has been in rehab for a few years now and it has been a while since the last time she made a meaningful progress. Her therapist was in tears! She particularly attributed those changes to practicing within the airport environment where she would stand by the virtual stairs and look up at the people coming towards her.”

It always makes me feel excited to do the works for people’s health. When a lot of people lose their faith in computer and new technology, it makes me deeply believe that the computer can do much more valuable and meaningful works than the evils it produces.

3 thoughts on “Balance Rehabilitation with VR”

    1. A home version is our goal. We are trying to figure out what postural control tasks and scenes are most effective for people to use at home.

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