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Fear of falling: efficacy of virtual reality associated with serious games in elderly people

Authors Levy F, Leboucher P, Rautureau G, Komano O, Millet B, Jouvent R

Received 7 October 2015

Accepted for publication 13 January 2016

Published 15 April 2016 Volume 2016:12 Pages 877—881

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S97809

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Prof. Dr. Roumen Kirov

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Fanny Levy,1 Pierre Leboucher,2 Gilles Rautureau,2 Odile Komano,2 Bruno Millet,1 Roland Jouvent1

1Department of Adults Psychiatry, 2PRISME-Virtual Reality, ICM-A- IHU, UPMC UMR_S 975, Inserm U 1127, CNRS UMR 7225, GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France

Objective: Fear of falling is defined as an ongoing concern about falling that is not explained by physical examination. Focusing on the psychological dimension of this pathology (phobic reaction to walking), we looked at how virtual reality associated with serious games can be used to treat this pathology.
Methods: Participants with fear of falling were randomly assigned to either a treatment group or a waiting list. The therapy consisted of 12 weekly sessions of virtual reality exposure therapy associated with serious games.
Results: Sixteen participants were included. The mean age of the treatment group was 72 years and that of the control group was 69 years. Participants’ scores on the fear of falling measure improved after treatment with virtual reality associated with serious games, leading to a significant difference between the two groups.
Conclusion: Virtual reality exposure therapy associated with serious games can be used in the treatment of fear of falling. The two techniques are complementary (top-down and bottom-up processes). To our knowledge, this is the first time that a combination of the two has been assessed. There was a specific effect of this therapy on the phobic reaction. Further studies are needed to confirm its efficacy and identify its underlying mechanism.

Keywords: fear of falling, virtual reality exposure therapy, serious games, phobia, anxiety disorders

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