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Journal of Rehabilitation Research and
Development Vol. 36 No. 4, October 1999

Abstract - A biomechanical evaluation of visually impaired persons' gait and long-cane mechanics

Vincent K. Ramsey, MS; Bruce B. Blasch, PhD; Akio Kita, BME; Benjamin F. Johnson, EdD

Veterans Affairs Medical Center (151R), Rehabilitation Research and Development Center, Decatur, GA 30033; Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, 30033, USA


This material is based upon work supported by VA Medical Center Rehab R&D developmental funds and fulfilled partial requirements for the Masters degree of Vincent K. Ramsey completed at Georgia State University.
Address all correspondence and requests for reprints to: Vincent K. Ramsey, MS, Veterans Affairs Medical Center (151R), Rehabilitation Research and Development Center, Decatur, GA 30033; email: vrdr@mindspring.com.

Abstract - 

This study was designed to compare selected kinematic components of gait and long cane mechanics between groups of visually impaired travelers. Twenty subjects were placed in Traditional or Modified technique groups according to their long cane traveling technique. Subjects were measured during the following conditions; 1) normal walking (NW), 2) walking while anticipating a simulated drop-off (AD), 3) walking while responding to an audible task (ST) and, 4) walking while anticipating a simulated drop-off and responding to an audible task (STAD). Data were analyzed using a repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Pearson's r-correlation coefficient. Analyses revealed no differences between groups of travelers. However, significant differences were noted between trials for components of gait velocity, stride length, and hip flexion velocity. These findings may indicate a potentially dangerous alteration in the normal gait cycle of visually impaired travelers when faced with additional attention-demanding tasks while walking.

Key words: biomechanics, blindness, kinematics, orientation and mobility, travel.

 

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