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Do the Physical Characteristics of a Virtual Reality Device Contraindicate Its Use for Balance Assessment?

2008, 17, 38 – 49

Context: Virtual reality environments may allow researchers to investigate functional balance performance without risks associated with testing in the real world. Objective: To investigate the effects of the mass of a head-mounted display (HMD) on balance performance. Design: Counterbalanced pretest-posttest. Setting: Virtual reality laboratory. Participants: 20 healthy college students. Intervention(s): Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) with a tracker-only headband and again with tracker plus HMD was performed. Main Outcome Measures: BESS error scores, elliptical sway area, and center of pressure travel distance were recorded. Results: No effect of the HMD mass on balance performance was observed. A significant stance by surface interaction was present but was negated when the HMD conditions were included in the model. Conclusions: The mass of a HMD has not been proven to adversely affect balance performance. These data suggest the HMD mass is not a contraindication to the use of immersive virtual environments in future concussion research involving balance. Keywords: mild traumatic brain injury, virtual environment, athletic injuries, postural stability, college

Authors: Jason P. Mihalik, Luv Kohli, Mary C. Whitton

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