Abstract T P120: Perception of Self-Motion using a Virtual Reality Environment Enhances Gait Adaptation in Chronic Stroke Survivors
Background & Purpose: Perception of self-motion through VR provides a unique avenue to improve gait adaptation in chronic stroke survivors. Stroke subjects show deterioration in bilateral coordination during gait. Such asymmetrical gait patterns may benefit from training the lower limbs to walk under different task constraints for each leg. In this ongoing study, bilateral incoordination in gait was targeted with a split-belt paradigm and perception of self-motion was provided with a Virtual Reality (VR) environment. The VR environment was hypothesized to enhance the split-belt adaptation by removing conflict between the static visual input (as in normal treadmill walking) and the dynamic proprioceptive input.
Subjects & Methods: Healthy young, healthy older adults and chronic stroke survivors walked on a split-belt treadmill in either a VR or a non-VR environment while being exposed to different belt speeds (fast: 1.5m/s and slow: 0.5m/s) for each leg. The VR stimuli consisted of walking in an infinitely long virtual corridor. Spatiotemporal measures as correlates of adaptation were compared between groups (young, old, stroke) and conditions (VR and non-VR).
Results: The participants in the VR condition demonstrated an increase in stride length compared to the non-VR condition for both healthy young (P = .019) and healthy elderly (P = .014). Preliminary results from the stroke group showed a trend towards a more stable coordination pattern that was reached quicker in the VR group than the non-VR group.
Conclusion: Results show that the perception of self-motion provided through VR may lead to faster and more enhanced adaptive capabilities. Such enhancement of adaptive capabilities during gait has important implications for pathological populations such as stroke survivors.
Author Disclosures: M. Mukherjee: None. T. Rand: None. P. Fayad: None.
- © 2015 by American Heart Association, Inc.