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Reality Based Multisystem Balance Assessment in the Aged
Phone: (503) 636-1230
This project addresses the need for sensitive and predictive measures that can identify elderlypersons at risk for falling, thereby preventing some of the human and societal costs of devastatinginjuries. Dynamic balance assessment methods will be combined with virtual-reality techniques toproduce an innovative technology for evaluating balance in simulated real-world environments. Presenttechniques reproduce only simple environment conditions, a far cry from the challenging situationsencountered in daily life. In Phase I, three-dimensional simulations of environmental situations in whichthe elderly experience instability will be developed. Postural responses and perceptions of young andelderly normal subjects will be tested. Feasibility of this approach will be evaluated by comparingresponses of healthy elderly and elderly with a propensity to fall. In Phase II, interactive virtual-reality'environments' with appropriate quantitative balance assessments will be created. A long-term goal isto fully realize the potential of virtual-reality technology and to develop functionally relevant balancetesting techniques soundly based on psychophysics and clinical electro-physiological methods. Bymaking the system user-friendly and cataloging quantitative information along with other health statusmeasures, emerging abnormalities could be identified, shifting the emphasis from diagnosis toprevention.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *