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Walking strategies of visually impaired people on trapezoidal- and sinusoidal-section tactile groundsurface indicators

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The visual system in walking serves to perceive feedback or feed-forward signals. Therefore, visually impaired persons (VIP) have biased motor control mechanisms. The use of leading indicators (LIs) and long canes helps toimprove their walking efficiency. The aims of this study were to compare the walking efficiency of VIP on trapezoidal- and sinusoidal-section LIs using an optoelectronic motion analysis system. VIP displayed a significantly longer stance phase, a shorter swing phase and shorter step and stride lengths when they walked on the sinusoidal LIthan when they walked on the trapezoidal LI. Compared with the trapezoidal LI, VIP walking on the sinusoidalLIdisplayed significantly lower joint ranges of motion. The centre of mass lateral displacement was wider for VIP walking on the sinusoidal LI than on the trapezoidal LI. Some significant differences were also found in sighted persons walking on both LIs. In conclusion, the trapezoidal shape enabled visually impaired subjects to walk more efficiently, whereas the sinusoidal shape caused dynamic balance problems. Statement of Relevance: These findings suggest that VIP can walk more efficiently, with a lower risk of falls, on trapezoidal-section than on sinusoidal-section LIs. These results should be considered when choosing the most appropriate ground tactile surface indicators for widespread use.
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Keywords: gait analysis; tactile ground surface indicators; visually impaired people; walking efficiency

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Occupational Medicine, INAIL, Rome, Italy 2: Department of Occupational Medicine, INAIL, Rome, Italy,Department of Neurology, IRCCS 'C. Mondino' Institute of Neurology, Pavia, Italy 3: Department of Medical and Surgical Science and Biotechnologies, Sapienza University of Rome, Latina, Italy 4: Department of Neurology, IRCCS 'C. Mondino' Institute of Neurology, Pavia, Italy

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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