Hallemans, Ann × Ortibus, Els Meire, Francoise Aerts, Peter #
Gait & Posture vol:32 issue:4 pages:547-551
The objective of this study was to demonstrate specific differences in gait patterns between those with and without a visual impairment. We performed a biomechanical analysis of the gait pattern of young adults (27 ± 13 years old) with a visual impairment (n=10) in an uncluttered environment and compared it to the gait pattern of age matched controls (n=20). Normally sighted adults were tested in a full vision and no vision condition. Differences are found in gait between both groups and both situations. Adults with a visual impairment walked with a shorter stride length (1.14 ± 0.21m), less trunk flexion (4.55 ± 5.14°) and an earlier plantar foot contact at heel strike (1.83 ± 3.49°) than sighted individuals (1.39 ± 0.08 m; 11.07 ± 4.01°; 5.10 ± 3.53°). When sighted individuals were blindfolded (no vision condition) they showed similar gait adaptations as well as a slower walking speed (0.84 ± 0.28 ms(-1)), a lower cadence (96.88 ± 13.71 steps min(-1)) and limited movements of the hip (38.24 ± 6.27°) and the ankle in the saggital plane (-5.60 ± 5.07°) compared to a full vision condition (1.27 ± 0.13 ms(-1); 110.55 ± 7.09 steps min(-1); 45.32 ± 4.57°; -16.51 ± .59°). Results showed that even in an uncluttered environment vision is important for locomotion control. The differences between those with and without a visual impairment, and between the full vision and no vision conditions, may reflect a more cautious walking strategy and adaptive changes employed to use the foot to probe the ground for haptic exploration.