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Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 28;9(1):3168. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-39104-6.

Postural instability in an immersive Virtual Reality adapts with repetition and includes directional and gender specific effects.

Author information

1
Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden. per-anders.fransson@med.lu.se.
2
Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.
3
Department of Health Sciences/Physiotherapy, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
4
Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Abstract

The ability to handle sensory conflicts and use the most appropriate sensory information is vital for successful recovery of human postural control after injury. The objective was to determine if virtual reality (VR) could provide a vehicle for sensory training, and determine the temporal and spatial nature of such adaptive changes. Twenty healthy subjects participated in the study (10 females). The subjects watched a 90-second VR simulation of railroad (rollercoaster) motion in mountainous terrain during five repeated simulations, while standing on a force platform that recorded their stability. The immediate response to watching the VR movie was an increased level of postural instability. Repeatedly watching the same VR movie significantly reduced both the anteroposterior (62%, p < 0.001) and lateral (47%, p = 0.001) energy used. However, females adapted more slowly to the VR stimuli as reflected by higher use of total (p = 0.007), low frequency (p = 0.027) and high frequency (p = 0.026) energy. Healthy subjects can significantly adapt to a multidirectional, provocative, visual environment after 4-5 repeated sessions of VR. Consequently, VR technology might be an effective tool for rehabilitation involving visual desensitisation. However, some females may require more training sessions to achieve effects with VR.

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