Seniors can learn to avoid falls by completing a virtual reality obstacle course

virtual reality seniors training vr system
Could virtual reality help seniors steer clear of nasty falls? That question forms the basis of a new project being carried out at Israel’s Tel Aviv University.

What researchers there have been investigating is how incorporating a virtual reality obstacle course into a regular treadmill workout may be able to assist vulnerable older people in better preventing tumbles.

“Falls are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in older adults,” the study’s lead author, Anat Mirelman, told Digital Trends. “The prevalence of falls is huge, with one out of every three adults aged 65 years or older [falling] at least once per year, with approximately half of these fallers suffering multiple falls in this period. These statistics are even higher in neurodegenerative conditions such as in Parkinson’s disease, and in people with cognitive impairments.”

The idea of adding a video game-style virtual reality element is that it can be used to safely train both the motor aspects that are important to fall risk, while also teaching participants to improve the cognitive functions necessary for safe ambulation (read: movement). By design, the VR is not fully immersive, so as to allow the subject to be aware of their real world surroundings — but it’s certainly proving to be effective.

In the study of 203 older adults with a history of multiple falls, those who participated in the training saw a reduction of 42 percent in falls six months post intervention.

“It also has the advantage of being a game that encourages participation and compliance,” Mirelman continued. “In the virtual environment, we can match the obstacle negotiation and cognitive challenges to their abilities, give feedback about performance to enhance the learning of new motor strategies of movement, and simultaneously address motor and cognitive aspects of fall risk that are crucial to safe ambulation. These advantages also often result in longer duration of training and adherence compared to over ground training.”

In terms of next steps, Mirelman said she believes the study has important implications for clinical practice.

“Adherence and participation were very high, there were no serious adverse events, and participants reported high satisfaction and enjoyment,” she said. “We think the next step is to show effectiveness, and not just efficacy, in a less confined research environment. The study showed that this type of training is effective and we think it can be administered in community gyms and rehabilitation clinics. We are working on these possibilities for the near future.”

Virtual Reality

Your first augmented reality work helmet might be made by Lenovo

A new augmented reality headset from Lenovo could challenge Microsoft's dominance in the commercial AR industry, with the ThinkReality A6 offering an AR experience akin to something between the first and second-generation Hololens headsets.
Movies & TV

Skip the flowers and sunshine this spring and watch the best shows on Hulu

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (May 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX scraps second effort to launch 60 Starlink satellites

Wednesday's planned SpaceX launch of 60 Starlink satellites was pushed back due to bad weather. Thursday's launch has also been postponed, so the company said it will try again next week.
Emerging Tech

UV-activated superglue could literally help to heal broken hearts

Scientists at China's Zhejiang University have developed a UV-activated adhesive glue that is capable of efficiently healing damage to organs, including the heart. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Purdue’s robotic hummingbird is nearly as nimble as the real thing

A team of engineers in Purdue University’s Bio-Robotics Lab have developed an impressively agile flying robot, modeled after the hummingbird. Check it out in all its robotic hovering glory.
Emerging Tech

USC’s penny-sized robotic bee is the most sci-fi thing you’ll see all week

Engineers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles have built a bee-inspired robot that weighs just 95 milligrams and is smaller than a penny. Check it out in action here.
Emerging Tech

Watch this drone dodge an incoming soccer ball autonomously

Most drones aren't very good at avoiding incoming objects. But now a team from the University of Zurich has developed a drone which can dodge, swoop, and dive to avoid an incoming football.
Emerging Tech

Experts warn 5G could interfere with weather forecasts, reducing accuracy by 30%

Experts and officials have warned that interference from 5G wireless radios could seriously compromise the ability to forecast weather, including the prediction of extreme weather events like hurricanes.
Emerging Tech

Chang’e 4 mission may have found minerals from beneath the surface of the moon

China's Chang'e 4 mission has made a major discovery: minerals that could be from beneath the surface of the moon. The lander spotted two unexpected mineral types which match what is believed to exist in the mantle.
Emerging Tech

See the impact site where the Beresheet spacecraft crashed into the moon

An image of the crash site of SpaceIL's ill-fated Beresheet spacecraft has been captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and is being analyzed for information about the moon's soil.
Emerging Tech

See a fly-over of Mars and track the path Curiosity will take up Mount Sharp

A new animation from NASA shows a fly-over of Mount Sharp on Mars, the location where the Curiosity rover is currently exploring. It also shows the path that Curiosity will take over the next few years.
Emerging Tech

Two galaxies play tug of war in this spectacular Hubble image

Hubble has captured evidence of a nearby galactic neighbor affecting the the shape and star production of a galaxy. The irregular galaxy NGC 4485 has been pulled into an unusual shape due to the nearby and much larger galaxy NGC 4490.