Technology-based programs to improve walking behavior of persons with multiple disabilities: Two single-case studies

Giulio E. Lancioni, Nirbhay N. Singh, Mark F. O'Reilly, Jeff Sigafoos, Gloria Alberti, Adele Boccasini, Doretta Oliva, Serafino Buono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: Assessing two technology-based programs for reducing toe walking and breaks during walking of two men with multiple disabilities, respectively.Method: The men were involved in separate single-case studies, each of which was carried out according to an ABAB design. The technology included a microprocessor with specific software, optic sensors, and visual plus vibrotactile or auditory systems for presenting preferred stimuli. In Study I, the man received 1 s of preferred flickering lights and vibratory input for each step performed with the heel of the left foot touching the ground or coming close to it (i.e. within a 2-mm distance). In Study II, the other man received 10 s of preferred music anytime he crossed one of the small marks present along the travel routes. Results: The B phases showed that (a) the man included in Study I increased the percentages of left- and right-foot steps performed with the heels touching or nearing the ground to above 85% and 70%, respectively, and (b) the man included in Study II walked with very few breaks. Conclusion: Technology-based programs can be highly effective in helping persons with multiple disabilities improve their walking behavior. Implications for Rehabilitation A technology-aided program ensuring preferred stimulation for steps performed with adequate foot position might reduce toe walking in persons with multiple disabilities (MD). A technology-aided program ensuring preferred stimulation for walking might improve walking continuity in persons with MD. Technology-aided programs can be an important resource to improve walking behavior of persons with MD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-98
Number of pages7
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

Keywords

  • Multiple disabilities
  • Technology
  • Toe walking
  • Walking breaks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Rehabilitation

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