The effect of dynamic perturbations on locomotor adaptation
The human body shows an incredible ability to adapt the locomotion pattern to the environment. A constant process of recalibration to the different environments and changing body mechanics is taking place. When the body is exposed to gradual or sudden kinematic or dynamic perturbations, people adapt differently. In arm-adaptation studies a gradual perturbation results in more complete adaptation and better short-term and long-term retention. However the first results of a locomotor adaptation study indicates less adaptation of the foot clearance and a faster decay of the adaptation in the wash out after the first exposure.
The goal of this project is to indicate which method, gradual or sudden perturbation reveals the most complete adaptation and short-term and long-term retention by evaluating foot clearance and step length.
About 20 participants will be randomly assigned to a gradual or sudden group. The participants will walk on a treadmill in the robotic gait trainer LOPES (LOwer-extremity Powered Exo-Skeleton). A dynamic force field adaptation task will be presented. The gradual group will be introduced to the force field over the first 30 strides, the sudden group will introduced to the force field suddenly starting at stride 1. The amount of adaptation will be derived from the foot clearance during mid-swing and the step length.