Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 47 Number 3, 2010
   Pages 233 — 242

Abstract — Analysis of user characteristics related to drop-off detection with long cane

Dae Shik Kim, PhD;1* Robert Wall Emerson, PhD;1 Amy Curtis, PhD2

1Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies and 2Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences PhD Program, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI

Abstract — This study examined how user characteristics affect drop-off detection with the long cane. A mixed-measures design with block randomization was used for the study, in which 32 visually impaired adults attempted to detect the drop-offs using different cane techniques. Younger cane users detected drop-offs significantly more reliably (mean +/- standard deviation = 74.2% +/- 11.2% of the time) than older cane users (60.9% +/- 10.8%), p = 0.009. The drop-off detection threshold of the younger participants (5.2 +/- 2.1 cm) was also statistically significantly smaller than that of the older participants (7.9 +/- 2.2 cm), p = 0.007. Those with early-onset visual impairment (78.0% +/- 9.0%) also detected drop-offs significantly more reliably than those with later-onset visual impairment (67.3% +/- 12.4%), p = 0.01. No interaction occurred between examined user characteristics (age and age at onset of visual impairment) and the type of cane technique used in drop-off detection. The findings of the study may help orientation and mobility specialists select appropriate cane techniques in accordance with the cane user's age and onset of visual impairment.

Key words: age, blind, cane user, detection threshold, drop-off detection, long cane technique, older adults, onset of visual impairment, orientation and mobility, visually impaired.


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Last Reviewed or Updated  Tuesday, May 4, 2010 9:17 AM