The Effect of Discrete Visual Perturbations on Balance Control during Gait

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PubDate: August 2020

Teams: Marquette University and Medical college of Wisconsin

Writers: Lara I. Riem; Brian D. Schmit; Scott A. Beardsley

PDF: The Effect of Discrete Visual Perturbations on Balance Control during Gait


Immersive virtual reality provides a safe and costeffective approach to administrating balance disruption during ambulation. Previous research has explored the effects of applying continuous perturbations in a virtual environment to challenge balance. This pilot study investigates the ability to disrupt balance with discrete visual perturbations during ambulation in healthy young adults. During the study participants walked on a treadmill within a virtual environment. As they walked the entire visual scene was intermittently shifted to the left or right 1 meter over 1 second. The results demonstrate a significant decrease in step length (p <; 0.05) and change in center of mass excursion (p <; 0.05) across participants (N=13). Changes in gait lasted up to three steps after application, suggesting a consistent challenge to dynamic balance control as a result of the discrete visual perturbation . Further, participants did not demonstrate a reduction in response to the discrete visual perturbation with repeated exposure. The results indicate that discrete visual perturbations of a virtual scene can be used to challenge gait and modulate center of mass sway. The use of visual perturbations within a virtual environment to challenge dynamic balance could provide a safer and more affordable avenue for balance rehabilitation by reducing the need for systems that physically perturb balance.

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