Effects of Perturbation-Based Slip Training Using a Virtual Reality Environment on Slip-Induced Falls

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 9-23-2014


The purpose of the current study was to design and evaluate the effectiveness of virtual reality training in improving recovery reactions and reducing fall frequency in older adults. Twenty-four older adults were recruited and randomly assigned to two groups (virtual reality training and control). Both groups underwent three sessions including baseline slip, training and transfer of training on slippery surface. Both groups experienced two slips, one during baseline and the other during the transfer of training trial. The training group underwent twelve simulated slips using a visual perturbation induced by tilting a virtual reality scene while walking on the treadmill and the control group performed normal walking during the training session. Kinematic and kinetic data were collected during all the sessions. Results demonstrated a reduced incidence of falls in the training group during the transfer of training trial as compared to the control group. The training group was able to transfer reactive control strategies learned during training to the second slip trial. The reactive adjustments included reduced slip distance. Additionally, gait parameters reflective of gait instability (stride length, step width, variability in stride velocity) reduced after walking in the VR environment for 15–20 min. The results indicated a beneficial effect of the virtual reality training in reducing slip severity and recovery kinematics in healthy older adults.


The version of record is available from the publisher at https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-014-1128-z. Copyright © 2014 Biomedical Engineering Society. All rights reserved.