Strength And BALance (SABAL) Virtual Trainer Trials at University of Virginia (UVa)

The Strength And BALance (SABAL) Virtual Trainer provides virtual world gaming experiences to motivate users and track adherence to evidence-based exercises for older adults – promoting improved health outcomes and reduction of fall risk in older adults. A completed SABAL prototype system combines off-the-shelf electronics with intelligent tracking algorithms and state-of-the-art game engine technology to provide a low-cost solution for use in senior centers, retirement communities, skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation clinics, and private residences. The research and development program is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging.

In a completed pilot study conducted between August and November 2016, 21 older adults (ages ranging from 70 to 90) used the SABAL prototype system during three visits each to an exercise and sports injury laboratory. Sessions included playing two different SABAL games, including a kayak adventure and hot air balloon race, that challenged participants’ strength and balance.  Preliminary analysis of game scores and other game-derived metrics indicate that SABAL performance is strongly correlated to clinically-accepted measures of balance. Full statistical analysis and documentation of results is ongoing.