Audio-Based Feedback Improves Aging Balance in Immersive Virtual Environments




Stewart, Michael

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Normal aging is often associated with the decline in postural stability and balance in older adults. Consequently, many older adults may face difficulties when using virtual reality (VR) systems, where users often experience imbalance effects. Age-related deficits in balance and the imbalance effects caused by VR systems presents a challenging limitation for older adults and general VR usability. However, methods to reduce these effects have not been thoroughly explored. We recruited 20 older adults (>50 years) and 20 young adults (18-24 years) in the present study to investigate and compare the effects of several audio-based feedbacks on postural stability and balance while in an immersive virtual environment (VE). In this study, we used four audio-based feedback conditions: spatial feedback, static feedback, rhythmic feedback, Center of Pressure (CoP)-based feedback, and a no-feedback in VR condition. Participants performed a non-VR standing balance task and a standing reach-to-grasp task. Then, using a head-mounted display (HMD), each participant performed a virtual replication of both the standing balance and standing reach-to-grasp task in VR. We used a force plate to calculate the participant's mean CoP velocity for each audio-based feedback condition during each balance study task. The within-subject results indicated that when spatial feedback was available, older adults exhibited significantly decreased CoP velocity and therefore increased postural stability for both the standing balance task and standing reach-to-grasp task. However, we did not find significant differences in CoP velocity for the static, rhythmic, and CoP-based feedback conditions, nor did we find significant differences in CoP velocities within the young adult participants. In this study, results suggest that spatial feedback techniques can be used in immersive VR environments to improve postural stability and balance in older adult users.


This item is available only to currently enrolled UTSA students, faculty or staff. To download, navigate to Log In in the top right-hand corner of this screen, then select Log in with my UTSA ID.


Aging Balance, Audio Feedback, Postural Stability, Sensory Feedback, Virtual Reality, VR Accessibility



Health and Kinesiology