Clinical observational gait analysis to evaluate improvement of balance during gait with vibrotactile biofeedback

M. Janssen, R. Pas, J. Aarts, Y. Janssen-Potten, H. Vles, C. Nabuurs, R. van Lummel, R. Stokroos, H. Kingma

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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: This study explores the effect of vibrotactile biofeedback on gait in 20 patients with bilateral vestibular areflexia using observational gait analysis to score individual balance. MethoDS: A tilt sensor mounted on the head or trunk is used to detect head or body tilt and activates, via a microprocessor, 12 equally distributed vibrators placed around the waist. Two positions of the tilt sensor were evaluated besides no biofeedback in three different gait velocity tasks (slow/fast tandem gait, normal gait on foam) resulting in nine different randomized conditions. Biofeedback activated versus inactivated was compared. Twenty patients (10 males, 10 females, age 39-77 years) with a bilateral vestibular areflexia or severe bilateral vestibular hyporeflexia, severe balance problems and frequent falls participated in this study. RESULTS: Significant improvements in balance during gait were shown in our patients using biofeedback and sensor on the trunk. Only two patients showed a significant individual gait improvement with the biofeedback system, but in the majority of our patients, it increased confidence and a feeling of balance. CONCLUSION: This study indicates the feasibility of vibrotactile biofeedback for vestibular rehabilitation and to improve balance during gait.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-11
JournalPhysiotherapy Research International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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