The overall goal of this project is to develop a novel rehabilitation tool for the treatment of patients with balance disorders using virtual reality (VR). Based on our extensive experience using balance rehabilitation therapy, which is non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical treatment for patients with balance disorders, we plan to develop VR protocols to improve this treatment modality. Thus, we propose to develop VR techniques appropriate for patients with balance disorders. We plan to 1) perform pre-clinical studies in normal subjects and selected patients across the age spectrum to develop ideas regarding tolerance, treatment methodologies, appropriate durations of exposure, and potential response measures, and 2) develop specific VR protocols for balance therapy
and perform pilot clinical studies. The VR facility will enable the therapist to provide graded amounts of visual complexity and visual motion in a physically safe and psychologically secure setting while patients perform typical eye and head movements essential for activities of daily living.