ASSESSING THE ATTENTIONAL DEMANDS OF ADDING HAPTIC INPUT DURING OVERGROUND WALKING
Awdhan, Aaron Paul 1993-
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Poor performance of two or more tasks have been linked to recurrent falls, lower attentional capacity and inability to allocate attention appropriately in older adults (Beauchet et al. 2008). Increasing attentional demands during walking through the addition of other tasks (i.e., modality use, cognitive tasks) can increase fall-risk in older adults, as the ability to achieve successful performance of two or more tasks is affected (Woollacott & Shumway-Cook, 2002). The addition of sensory input in the form of haptic modalities, such as light touch (LT) of a rigid railing with less than 1 newton of force (Holden, Ventura, & Lackner, 1994), or haptic anchors (Mauerberg-deCastro et al., 2014), which involves pulling a light weight (~ 125 grams) attached to a string in each hand have been observed to improve dynamic stability, while not providing mechanical support. Determining the attentional demands of haptic modalities and the effect on dynamic stability will assist in better understanding their impact on fall-risk. The primary objective of this thesis was to assess the attentional demands of haptic modalities during walking using a verbal reaction time (VRT) task in healthy, young adults. The secondary objective of this thesis was to assess the effect of haptic modalities during walking with an added VRT task on dynamic stability. Twenty-two (12 male) healthy, young adults completed the testing protocol. Participants performed walking without haptic modalities (baseline), with LT of a rigid railing, and use of haptic anchors, with and without a VRT task that involved responding to a low or high frequency tone with the word “low” or “high”, respectively. A one-way RM ANOVA [condition (Baseline/LT/Anchors)] was performed on VRTs to assess attentional demands. A 2 × 2 RM ANOVA [condition (baseline walking/haptic modality) × presence of VRT task (no VRT task/VRT task)] on all calculated kinematic variables for each haptic modality separately to measure dynamic stability and walking performance with the addition of the haptic modality and the VRT task. No significant differences were observed (p = 0.506) between VRTs during walking conditions suggesting haptic modalities require similar attentional demands compared to baseline walking. It was observed that ML MOS was significantly decreased with LT (p < 0.001) and anchors (p = 0.010) suggesting using haptic modalities affects dynamic stability. There was little effect on dynamic stability measures with the added presence of a VRT task. The effect on dynamic stability observed when using haptic modalities may be associated with the arm position and the lack of arm swing. Overall, these findings suggest haptic modalities may require similar attentional demands to baseline walking and that adding a VRT when using a haptic modality does not affect walking behaviour. Dynamic stability might be affected with modality use as indicated by changes in outcome measures related to stability and walking when the haptic modalities were used during walking.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorOates, Alison R
CommitteeLanovaz, Joel L; Arnold, Catherine M; Mickleborough, Marla J.S; Zucker-Levin, Audrey R
Copyright DateSeptember 2017