Effects of a light touch on fixed or mobile supports on gait parameters in visually restricted young adults

  • Bingenheimer Katja
  • Temprado Jean Jacques
  • Harnagea Marta
  • Bricot Nicolas
  • Villani Patrick
  • Berton Eric


We investigated the effects of lightly touching fixed and mobile supports on gait parameters and center of mass oscillations in visually restricted young adults. Fourteen healthy male and female adults of mean = 23.6 years (SD = 1.6 years). Twelve walking conditions were completed on the GAITRite measurement system, resulting from crossing 3 conditions of visual restriction (no restriction, partial restriction, blindfolded) and 4 conditions of haptic supplementation (no supplementation, with a cane used as ``light touch'', with a cane sliding on the ground, while touching a soft elastic handrail). Gait speed, stance time, step length and the basis of support were measured. Accelerations of center of mass were also recorded through an accelerometer and the displacements of center of mass were analyzed. Results showed that visual restriction decreased in gait speed, reduced step length, while it increased the base of support and the amplitude of CoM displacements. In the full restriction condition, haptic supplementation provided by the use of the classic cane improved normalized stance time (%). In addition, in the no vision condition, both the classic cane and the soft handrail increased step length and reduced medio-lateral oscillations of the CoM. These results suggest that in visually restricted healthy adults, lightly touching a fixed (soft handrail) or a mobile (classic cane) support contributes to adaptation of gait parameters and postural control during locomotion. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.