Case Studies

Falls in older people represent a significant economic and social challenge. A new project, led by Professor Sallie Lamb, aims to find out how and why some people are more likely to fall after an unexpected slip or trip.

Many research groups around the world have used platform movements/perturbations to induce falls and study balance responses. However, technological limitations have meant that the balance/walking tasks used are not representative of those often encountered in daily life.

We are using the flexibility of the VSimulators moving platform to simulate different types of slips and trips common in older people (especially those that often lead to injury, such as backwards falls). These platform perturbations will be integrated with dynamic virtual reality walking tasks (e.g. walking along a pavement while avoiding hazards and oncoming walkers). It is very important that we accurately simulate how virtual environments look and feel if we are to expect participants’ responses to reflect that which occur in daily life. This work will show how changes in musculoskeletal, neurophysiological, and psychological function can influence both movement planning and recovery from a variety of unexpected perturbations.

We hope that findings from this project will inform the development of targeted methods, feasible for clinical use, that both predict and prevent falls.

For more information on this project please contact Professor Sallie Lamb (S.E.Lamb@exeter.ac.uk).

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