Stepping Stability: Effects of Sensory Perturbation
McGibbon, Chris A
Krebs, David E
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CitationMcGibbon, Chris A, David E Krebs, Robert Wagenaar. "Stepping stability: effects of sensory perturbation" Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 2:9. (2005)
BACKGROUND Few tools exist for quantifying locomotor stability in balance impaired populations. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a technique for quantifying stability of stepping in healthy people and people with peripheral (vestibular hypofunction, VH) and central (cerebellar pathology, CB) balance dysfunction by means a sensory (auditory) perturbation test. METHODS Balance impaired and healthy subjects performed a repeated bench stepping task. The perturbation was applied by suddenly changing the cadence of the metronome (100 beat/min to 80 beat/min) at a predetermined time (but unpredictable by the subject) during the trial. Perturbation response was quantified by computing the Euclidian distance, expressed as a fractional error, between the anterior-posterior center of gravity attractor trajectory before and after the perturbation was applied. The error immediately after the perturbation (Emax), error after recovery (Emin) and the recovery response (Edif) were documented for each participant, and groups were compared with ANOVA. RESULTS Both balance impaired groups exhibited significantly higher Emax (p = .019) and Emin (p = .028) fractional errors compared to the healthy (HE) subjects, but there were no significant differences between CB and VH groups. Although response recovery was slower for CB and VH groups compared to the HE group, the difference was not significant (p = .051). CONCLUSION The findings suggest that individuals with balance impairment have reduced ability to stabilize locomotor patterns following perturbation, revealing the fragility of their impairment adaptations and compensations. These data suggest that auditory perturbations applied during a challenging stepping task may be useful for measuring rehabilitation outcomes.