The University of Newcastle, Australia

Virtual reality to help assess neck pain

Friday, 28 October 2016

UON researchers will tap into virtual reality technology to better understand neck pain and are calling for participants in a new study.

PhD Candidate Rutger de Zoete is seeking participants* aged over 18, with or without neck pain to help better understand how head and neck movement is related to neck pain.

Around 70 per cent of people globally will experience neck pain at least once in their lives, however, despite both national and international guidelines for the treatment of neck pain, therapies are often ineffective, leading to recurrent neck pain in 50 to 85 per cent of neck pain cases.

Recent research suggests that people with neck pain may not be as capable of controlling their head and neck movements as people without neck pain.

The study will involve several clinical measurements to assess the control of the head and neck movements, will assess balance and eye movement control – and will involve virtual reality-driven tests. “These measurements may be an indication of head-neck coordination that will tell us whether or not a person is likely to experience neck pain” says Mr de Zoete.

All tests will be administered by a trained and experienced physiotherapist.

Participants will be required to attend between two and four measurement sessions lasting 75 minutes at the movement laboratory at The University of Newcastle Callaghan campus.

For more information contact Rutger de Zoete on 0432 218 486 or email

*People cannot participate in this study if they have:
- A limited vision (after correction – glasses/contacts are fine)
- Diabetes
- (History of) migraine headaches
- History of neck trauma or surgery
- Neurological or musculoskeletal conditions that can affect head and neck movement control (e.g. joint replacements)

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