In the HoloWalk Study, we incorporate emerging immersive virtual reality (VR) technology to develop the next generation fall intervention. VR will enable context specificity, which means training is conducted in environmental context similar to daily life. Context-specific balance training will allow older adults to learn to proactively identify and avoid hazards in daily life situations. Older people wearing a safety harness and VR headset, learn to avoid everyday trip and slip hazards such as concrete cracks, curbs, wet surfaces while walking on a treadmill in a virtual suburban environment.
Participants play an enjoyable game requiring divided attention while walking; a scenario that often leads to falls in everyday life. When an older person’s foot collides with a virtual hazard, the treadmill belt quickly accelerates to evoke trip and slip responses. Our study will inform us of optimal training strategies for negotiating trip and slip hazards that will transfer to everyday life in older people.