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Research Article Open Access
Our aim in this study was to assess postural control adaptation quantitatively in unsteady elderly patients at risk of falls in open spaces and given balance training with a virtualreality system reproducing environmental stimulation. Using a balance rehabilitation unit based on a virtual-reality system that changes sensory information (visual, vestibular, and somatosensory), we treated 26 elderly, unsteady patients who were prone to falling (age range, 73–82 years) and who were enrolled in a customized vestibular rehabilitation program. We assessed postural responses by posturography before and after 6 weeks in the vestibular rehabilitation program under two conditions: (1) standing, eyes open, static visual field, and (2) standing, eyes open, dynamic visual field through virtual-reality goggles, generating horizontal optokinetic stimulation (70 degrees per second angular velocity). We recorded postural responses with a platform measuring the confidential ellipse of the center-of-pressure distribution area and sway velocity with a scalogram analyzing postural behavior by wavelets. After 6 weeks of treatment, postural response confidential ellipse and sway velocity values were lower, evincing decreased amplitudes and sway frequency contents in the scalogram by wavelet under both stimulation paradigm conditions. These findings suggest postural adaptation under the two perceptual conditions when patients had static and dynamic visual fields. The possibility of treating elderly fallers with balance disorders using a virtual-reality environmental stimulation reproduction system is discussed.
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Author(s): Hamlet SurezAlejo Surezand Luiz Lavinsky
balance disorders, falls, postural control, vestibular rehabilitation, virtual reality