Increased Symmetry of Lower-Limb Amputees Walking with Concurrent Bilateral Vibrotactile Feedback

Elena Martini, Ilaria Cesini, Jessica D'Abbraccio, Gabriele Arnetoli, Stefano Doronzio, Antonella Giffone, Barbara Meoni, Calogero M. Oddo, Nicola Vitiello, Simona Crea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Gait asymmetry in lower-limb amputees can lead to several secondary conditions that can decrease general health and quality of life. Including augmented sensory feedback in rehabilitation programs can effectively mitigate spatiotemporal gait irregularities. Such benefits can be obtained with non-invasive haptic systems representing an advantageous choice for usability in overground training and every-day life. In this study, we tested a wearable tactile feedback device delivering short-lasting (100ms) vibrations around the waist syncronized to gait events, to improve the temporal gait symmetry of lower-limb amputees. Three above-knee amputees participated in the study. The device provided bilateral stimulations during a training program that involved ground-level gait training. After three training sessions, participants showed higher temporal symmetry when walking with the haptic feedback in comparison to their natural walking (resulting symmetry index increases of +2.8% for Subject IDA, +12.7% for Subject IDB and +2.9% for Subject IDC). One subject retained improved symmetry (Subject IDB,+14.9%) even when walking without the device. Gait analyses revealed that higher temporal symmetry may lead to concurrent compensation strategies in the trunk and pelvis. Overall, the results of this pilot study confirm the potential utility of sensory feedback devices to positively influence gait parameters when used in supervised settings. Future studies shall clarify more precisely the training modalities and the targets of rehabilitation programs with such devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9245554
Pages (from-to)74-84
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Volume29
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Gait symmetry
  • haptic interfaces
  • lower-limb amputation
  • sensory aids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering

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