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Locomotor adaptation to visual cueing of impending mechanical perturbations during treadmill walking

Jinfeng Li

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of Central Florida

Helen J. Huang

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Disability, Aging, and Technology (DAT) cluster
University of Central Florida

Purpose: To determine whether visual cueing of the magnitudes of impending mechanical perturbations facilitates adaptation during perturbed walking.

Hypothesis: Visual cueing of impending mechanical perturbations will facilitate adaptation (specifically, result in larger margins of stability compared to no cueing).


Brief decelerate belt speeds during every right midstance can perturb walking and balance [1].

Subjects initially decreased anterior-posterior margin of stability when first experiencing the perturbations but adapted back towards baseline [1].

Visual cueing of the perturbations may facilitate an anticipatory strategy and increase adaptation [2].

what is margin of stability?

Margin of stability (MoS) was the anterior–posterior distance between the extrapolated center of mass and the left toe marker at left heel strike.

experimental protocol

Each trial started with 2 minutes of unperturbed walking (pre), followed by 4 minutes of perturbed walking (perturbed), and completed with another 2 minutes of unperturbed walking (post). An unperturbed catch stride occurred randomly 1 out of every 5 strides during perturbed walking.

thoughts thus far...

These results suggest that visual cueing does not necessarily improve adaptation to impending mechanical perturbations during gait.

Next steps: collect more subjects to determine whether this behavior occurs in more subjects and in older adults.


[1] Li J and Huang HJ. Dynamic Walking 2019: 47.
[2] Wu M et al. PLoS One. 2015;10: e0132707.


Supported by NIH R01AG054621 and a University of Central Florida In-House grant.

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