The effect of a multi-projected virtual rehabilitation environment during adaptation locomotion tasks
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Millions of people every year are experiencing symptoms of movement disorder or postural control dysfunctions, which are the result of falling injuries. Most falling injuries are associated with identifiable or modifiable risk factors. A virtual therapy tried to raise the awareness of preventative measures to the individuals, teach them to adapt their negotiation abilities to the alterations of their motion due to age, disease or injuries and and thus, react accurately and fast again to reduce injurious falls. Eighteen subjects (14 males, 4 females; 30 mean age) perform avoidance tasks under three different test conditions. The three test conditions are divided based on the following criteria: the virtual environment is projected only on a front surface, in front of the treadmill that the subject stands; the front virtual environment is extended on a ground surface. However, the projected virtual environment in the two surfaces is sub-divided into two test conditions. The projected information between the two surfaces is consistent (i.e. same dimensions of the spherical virtual obstacles width, length, height between the two projections), whereas in the second condition there is inconsistency in the projected information between the two surfaces (i.e. same width, length but different height dimensions of the virtual obstacles between the two projections, the obstacles are now visualized on the ground as flat disks). The extent of a front virtual environment to the ground make the subjects perceive accurately the time of contact of their feet (tracked by a motion-capture sensor) with the virtual obstacles and therefore, act on time to step over them. No feedback is provided to the subjects about the position of their feet or their performance in the virtual rehabilitation environment. However, the extent of the front environment to the ground alters the motor behavior of the subjects. The front projection during the experiments used for the anticipation and the assessment of the obstacle dimensions, whereas the ground projection is used for the assessment of the distance of the virtual obstacle and the natural interaction. The ground projection is not improving the height perception of the obstacles on the platform. Assumptions are made to explain the behavior of the subjects and identify the platform’s limitations. The inconsistency between the projected information in the front/floor surfaces reveal no substantial alterations in the behavior of the subjects. The behavior and experience of the subjects are compared to reveal correlations between the three conditions.