A virtual reality head stability test for patients with vestibular dysfunction

Anat V. Lubetzky, Bryan D. Hujsak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The contribution of visual information to standing balance in patients with vestibular dysfunction varies between patients. Sensitive tools to detect kinematic response to visual perturbation are needed to individualize treatment. OBJECTIVE: Using the Oculus Rift headset and sensors, we developed a novel virtual reality (VR) test of head stability (HST) in response to visual perturbation. During the test, head movements were tracked in six degrees-of-freedom. The purpose of this pilot studywas to test the sensitivity of theVR HST to differences between patients with vestibular dysfunction and controls. METHODS: Seventeen patients and 16 controls performed static balance tasks with eyes closed (feet together or tandem on floor and foam) and observing 'moving stars' (amplitude 32 mm, frequency 0.2 Hz) via the Oculus (tandem). Directional Path and Root Mean Square Velocity were calculated for postural and head oscillations. RESULTS: Postural sway differed significantly between groups when standing on foam with feet together and on floor while observing the 'moving stars' task. Head oscillations were larger among patients, primarily in pitch, yaw, and roll rotation. CONCLUSIONS: The VR HST was found to be sensitive to differences between small and diverse groups. Its clinical utility should be studied in larger samples of patients with vestibular dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-400
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Vestibular Research: Equilibrium and Orientation
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2019


  • Sensory integration
  • oculus rift
  • postural control
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Clinical Neurology


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