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

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Jason P. Mihalik
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Luv Kohli
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Mary C. Whitton
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Virtual reality environments may allow researchers to investigate functional balance performance without risks associated with testing in the real world.


To investigate the effects of the mass of a head-mounted display (HMD) on balance performance.


Counterbalanced pretest-posttest.


Virtual reality laboratory.


20 healthy college students.


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.


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.


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.

Jason Mihalik is with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Mary C. Whitton and Luv Kohli are with the Department of Computer Science, all at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. E-mail:

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