Fall Prevention Through Retraining Sensory Weighting


The team is creating a virtual environment where people are tested on boat rides, a walk, and other potentially unstable situations for fall prevention. be used to retrain their Vibrotactile feedback will sensory weighting.

Specific Aims

1) Develop a balance rehabilitation protocol using vibrotactile biofeedback system and virtual

environments to retrain sensory weighting mechanism

2) Proof of concept – Investigate the feasibility of using the vibrotactile biofeedback in healthy young

adults in which the somatosensory information from their feet has been temporarily decreased

3) Test the effectiveness of retraining sensory weighting and decrease the risk for falls in patients with

peripheral neuropathies and older adults


1) The team succesfully developed a vibrotactile feedback device and virtual environments. The wearable biofeedback system (worn wrapped around ankle or thigh ) is equipped with IMU sensors, an array of vibrotactile actuators, and Texas Instruments MSP430 micro-controller. The team performed kinematic analysis of walking in the virtual environments.

2) Experiments performed to investigate project feasibility. The team produced proof of concept.

3) Project recieved IRB Approval.

Variables to be assessed pre- and post- training:

  • Feet sensory sensation (pressure and vibratory) • Activities Specific Balance confidence Scale
  • Falls efficacy Scale
  • Timed up and Go Test (TUG)
  • Short Physical Performance Battery
  • Clinical test for Sensory Interaction in Balance
  • Dynamic Gait Index

Training :

  • 1 hour/week for 6 weeks Virtual environments (City Ride, Boat Ride, Road) and vibrotactile feedback
  •  Progression through three levels of difficulty


Future Direction and Development

The team plans to develop a wearable vibrotactile feedback device, integrating Bluetooth to control vibrators inside device.


Submissions and Presentations

  • Paper submitted and accepted for presentation at International Society for Posture and Gait Research, June 2012
  • Invited presentation at International CAREN Conference
  • Targeted grant submission to NIH June cycle

View Research Results Presentation

Primary Investigator:

Nicoleta Bugnariu, UNTHSC
Associate Professor – Physical Therapy Program
Nicoleta.Bugnariu@unthsc.edu  // (817) 272-2708 // Biography

Team Members:

Roozbeh Jafari, UTD
John Hart, M.D., UTD

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