Cell phone based balance trainer. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: In their current laboratory-based form, existing vibrotactile sensory augmentation technologies that provide cues of body motion are impractical for home-based rehabilitation use due to their size, weight, complexity, calibration procedures, cost, and fragility. METHODS: We have designed and developed a cell phone based vibrotactile feedback system for potential use in balance rehabilitation training in clinical and home environments. It comprises an iPhone with an embedded tri-axial linear accelerometer, custom software to estimate body tilt, a "tactor bud" accessory that plugs into the headphone jack to provide vibrotactile cues of body tilt, and a battery. Five young healthy subjects (24 2.8 yrs, 3 females and 2 males) and four subjects with vestibular deficits (42.25 13.5 yrs, 2 females and 2 males) participated in a proof-of-concept study to evaluate the effectiveness of the system. Healthy subjects used the system with eyes closed during Romberg, semi-tandem Romberg, and tandem Romberg stances. Subjects with vestibular deficits used the system with both eyes-open and eyes-closed conditions during semi-tandem Romberg stance. Vibrotactile feedback was provided when the subject exceeded either an anterior-posterior (A/P) or a medial-lateral (M/L) body tilt threshold. Subjects were instructed to move away from the vibration. RESULTS: The system was capable of providing real-time vibrotactile cues that informed corrective postural responses. When feedback was available, both healthy subjects and those with vestibular deficits significantly reduced their A/P or M/L RMS sway (depending on the direction of feedback), had significantly smaller elliptical area fits to their sway trajectory, spent a significantly greater mean percentage time within the no feedback zone, and showed a significantly greater A/P or M/L mean power frequency. CONCLUSION: The results suggest that the real-time feedback provided by this system can be used to reduce body sway. Its advantages over more complex laboratory-based and commercial balance training systems in terms of cost, size, weight, functionality, flexibility, and accessibility make it a good candidate for further home-based balance training evaluation.

published proceedings

  • J Neuroeng Rehabil

altmetric score

  • 5.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Lee, B., Kim, J., Chen, S., & Sienko, K. H.

citation count

  • 110

complete list of authors

  • Lee, Beom-Chan||Kim, Jeonghee||Chen, Shu||Sienko, Kathleen H

publication date

  • January 2012