The objective of the study was to design a virtual reality (VR) training to induce perturbation in older adults similar to a slip and examine the effect of the training on kinematic and muscular responses in older adults. Twenty-four older adults were involved in a laboratory study and randomly assigned to two groups (VR training and control). Both groups went through three sessions including baseline slip, training, and transfer of training on slippery surface. The training group experienced 12 simulated slips using a visual perturbation induced by tilting a VR scene while walking on the treadmill and the control group completed normal walking during the training session. Kinematic, kinetic, and electromyography data were collected during all the sessions. Results demonstrated the proactive adjustments such as increased trunk flexion at heel contact after training. Reactive adjustments included reduced time to peak activations of knee flexors, reduced knee coactivation, reduced time to trunk flexion, and reduced trunk angular velocity after training. In conclusion, the study findings indicate that the VR training was able to generate a perturbation in older adults that evoked recovery reactions and such motor skill can be transferred to the actual slip trials.
Parijat, P., Lockhart, T. E., & Liu, J. (2015). EMG and kinematic responses to unexpected slips after slip training in virtual reality. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 62(2), 593-599. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2014.2361324