“I feel uneasy in the dark.”
“It feels weird when people come behind me.”
“I am bothered by pedestrians walking too close to me.”
Patients with vestibular dysfunction who have visited our NYU Physical Therapy Sensorimotor Lab are having difficulty with activities of daily living in New York City. They avoid crowded stores, airports or public transportation such as the New York subway. Noisy, busy and dynamic environments make them anxious, dizzy and off-balance. However, clinically available balance measures and interventions typically focus on single/dual-task assessment in static and predictable environments.1 This under-represents postural control and sensory demands in daily-life situations, which frequently involve changing environments, person-environment interactions, unexpected external forces, and multitasking all of which are particularly challenging for the patient with vestibular dysfunction.2
In the past few years there have been substantial advancements in virtual reality (VR) headsets as well as motion sensor technology. The ability to mimic realistic situations and carefully manipulate and control visual environments has become simpler, portable and more affordable. Using
advanced VR technology (specifically, Oculus Rift and Vive HTC headsets) combined with the science of sensory integration for postural control, we have created dynamic environments that could be used to assess and target specific deficits in visuomotor processing for postural control.
- Pardasaney PK, Slavin MD, Wagenaar RC, Latham NK, Ni P, Jette AM. Conceptual limitations of balance measures for community-dwelling older adults. Phys Ther. 2013;93(10):1351-1368.
- Lopez C, Falconer CJ, Deroualle D, Mast FW. In the presence of others: Self-location, balance control and vestibular processing. Neurophysiol Clin. October 2015.