The Virtual Haptic Back Project Homepage

This project is supported by the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation.


We are the first group (1999) to apply haptics (force and touch feedback to the user) and VR technology to support research and medical student training in the field of Osteopathic Medicine.


This is a project of the Interdisciplinary Institute for Neuromusculoskeletal Research at Ohio University, also supported by the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation.



Personnel            Publications                 Versions              VR Hardware               Two-Pager




VHB Version 5 with Dual PHANToM 3.0s                                    VHB Version 7 (transparent practice mode)


A Virtual Haptic Back (VHB) model is under development by a cross-disciplinary team of researchers at Ohio University.  Haptics gives a human user the sense of touch and force from virtual computer models.  The objective is to create an innovative tool for medical education wherein students can train in the difficult art of palpatory diagnosis using virtual reality as a supplement to practice with human subjects.  Palpatory diagnosis can change the condition of the human subject’s back, interfering with diagnoses by multiple students.  Therefore, we are adding repeatable science to Osteopathic training via haptics technology.  We are evaluating our product with human subjects in the lab and continuously refining the realism of our models based on D.O. feedback.


Our recent results show that training with the VHB significantly improves the students’ accuracy and time to identify random somatic dysfunctions.  Subjective osteopathic student feedback is also very positive regarding the potential of the VHB as an augmentation, with immediate automated feedback, for their OMM training.


haptic_back_lowres            Maria

VHB in OMM Laboratory                                                               Medical student practicing with the VHB


Our software will soon be available outside of Ohio University.  Feel free to contact us if you are interested in this research:


Dr. Bob Williams