Does visual feedback during walking result in similar improvements in trunk control for young and older healthy adults?
Springer Science and Business Media LLC -- Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
DOI 10.1186/1743-0003-10-110
Keyword(s)
  1. Visual feedback
  2. Walking
  3. Balance
Abstract(s)

Background

Most current applications of visual feedback to improve postural control are limited to a fixed base of support and produce mixed results regarding improved postural control and transfer to functional tasks. Currently there are few options available to provide visual feedback regarding trunk motion while walking. We have developed a low cost platform to provide visual feedback of trunk motion during walking. Here we investigated whether augmented visual position feedback would reduce trunk movement variability in both young and older healthy adults.

Methods

The subjects who participated were 10 young and 10 older adults. Subjects walked on a treadmill under conditions of visual position feedback and no feedback. The visual feedback consisted of anterior-posterior (AP) and medial-lateral (ML) position of the subject’s trunk during treadmill walking. Fourier transforms of the AP and ML trunk kinematics were used to calculate power spectral densities which were integrated as frequency bins “below the gait cycle” and “gait cycle and above” for analysis purposes.

Results

Visual feedback reduced movement power at very low frequencies for lumbar and neck translation but not trunk angle in both age groups. At very low frequencies of body movement, older adults had equivalent levels of movement variability with feedback as young adults without feedback. Lower variability was specific to translational (not angular) trunk movement. Visual feedback did not affect any of the measured lower extremity gait pattern characteristics of either group, suggesting that changes were not invoked by a different gait pattern.

Conclusions

Reduced translational variability while walking on the treadmill reflects more precise control maintaining a central position on the treadmill. Such feedback may provide an important technique to augment rehabilitation to minimize body translation while walking. Individuals with poor balance during walking may benefit from this type of training to enhance path consistency during over-ground locomotion.