Time-discrete vibrotactile feedback contributes to improved gait symmetry in patients with lower limb amputations: case series

Crea, Simona, Edin, Benoni B., Knaepen, Kristel, Meeusen, Romain, and Vitiello, Nicola (2017) Time-discrete vibrotactile feedback contributes to improved gait symmetry in patients with lower limb amputations: case series. Physical therapy, 97 (2). pp. 198-207.

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Background: Reduced sensory feedback from lower leg prostheses results in harmful gait patterns and entails a significant cognitive burden because users have to visually monitor their locomotion.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to validate a sensory feedback device designed to help elderly patients with transfemoral amputation to improve their temporal gait symmetry after a training program aimed at associating the vibrotactile patterns with symmetrical walking.

Design: This was a prospective quasi-experimental study including 3 elderly patients walking with lower leg prostheses.

Methods: During training sessions, participants walked on a treadmill equipped with feedback device that controlled vibrotactile stimulators based on signals from a sensorized insole while provided with visual feedback about temporal gait symmetry. The vibrotactile stimulators delivered short-lasting, low-intensity vibrations synchronously with certain gait phase transitions. During pretraining and posttraining sessions, participants walked without visual feedback about gait symmetry under 4 conditions: with or without vibrotactile feedback while performing or not performing a secondary cognitive task. The primary outcome measure was temporal gait symmetry.

Results: with <= 52 hours of training,the participants improved their temporal gait symmetry from 0.82 to 0.84 during the pretraining evaluation session to 0.98 to 1.02 during the follow-up session across all conditions. Following training, participants were able to maintain good temporal gait synmsetry, without any evidence of an increased cognitive burden.

Limitations: The small sample size and short follow-up time do not allow straightforward extrapolations to larger populations or extended time periods.

Conclusions: Low-cost, gait phase-specific vibrotactile feedback after training combined with visual feedback may improve the temporal gait synmsetry in patients with transfemoral amputation without representing an additional cognitive burden.

Item ID: 50622
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1538-6724
Funders: European Union (EU), Fondazione Pisa (FP), Swedish Research Council (SRC)
Projects and Grants: EU CYBERLEGs project FP7/2007-2013 grant agreement 287894, FP IUVO project program 154/11, SRC VR2011-3128
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 10:34
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4201 Allied health and rehabilitation science > 420104 Occupational therapy @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920299 Health and Support Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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