A novel wearable device to deliver unconstrained, unpredictable slip perturbations during gait

Corbin M. Rasmussen, Nathaniel H. Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Task-specific perturbation training is a widely studied means of fall prevention, utilizing techniques that induce slips or slip-like perturbations during gait. Though effective, these methods only simulate narrow ranges within the larger space of possible slipping conditions encountered in daily life. Here we describe and test a novel, wearable apparatus designed to address these limitations and simulate a diverse range of slipping disturbances. Methods: The device consists of wireless triggering and detachable outsole components that provide adequate friction with the floor when secured to the wearer's foot, but suddenly create a low-friction surface underfoot upon release. "Benchtop" tests were carried out to quantify device triggering characteristics (i.e. cutting temperature, release delay) and the resulting friction reduction. The device was also tested on six healthy young adults (3 female, age 23 ± 2.4 years), who walked with and without the device to observe how gait kinematics and spatiotemporal parameters were influenced, then performed 12 walking trials ending with a slip delivered by the device. Each participant also completed a survey to obtain opinions on device safety, device comfort, slip realism, and slip difficulty. A linear mixed effects analysis was employed to compare subject spatiotemporal parameters with and without the apparatus, as well as correlation coefficients and root mean square errors (RMSE) to assess the impact of the device on lower limb gait kinematics. Slip onset phases, distances, directions, velocities, and recovery step locations were also calculated. Results: This device rapidly diminishes available friction from static coefficients of 0.48 to 0.07, albeit after a substantial delay (0.482 ± 0.181 s) between signal reception and outsole release. Strong correlations (R > 0.93) and small RMSE between gait kinematics with and without the device indicate minimal effects on natural gait patterns, however some spatiotemporal parameters were significantly impacted. A diverse range of slip perturbations and recovery steps were successfully elicited by the device. Conclusions: Our results highlight the efficacy and utility of a wearable slipping device to deliver diverse slip conditions. Such an apparatus enables the study of unconstrained slips administered across the gait cycle, as well as during different locomotor behaviors like turning, negotiating slopes, and level changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 17 2019

Keywords

  • Balance
  • Falls
  • Gait
  • Perturbations
  • Slips
  • Task-specific Training
  • Wearable Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics

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