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The Integrated Virtual Environment Rehabilitation Treadmill System

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5 Author(s)
Feasel, J. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Univ. of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA ; Whitton, M.C. ; Kassler, L. ; Brooks, F.P.
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Slow gait speed and interlimb asymmetry are prevalent in a variety of disorders. Current approaches to locomotor retraining emphasize the need for appropriate feedback during intensive, task-specific practice. This paper describes the design and feasibility testing of the integrated virtual environment rehabilitation treadmill (IVERT) system intended to provide real-time, intuitive feedback regarding gait speed and asymmetry during training. The IVERT system integrates an instrumented, split-belt treadmill with a front-projection, immersive virtual environment. The novel adaptive control system uses only ground reaction force data from the treadmill to continuously update the speeds of the two treadmill belts independently, as well as to control the speed and heading in the virtual environment in real time. Feedback regarding gait asymmetry is presented 1) visually as walking a curved trajectory through the virtual environment and 2) proprioceptively in the form of different belt speeds on the split-belt treadmill. A feasibility study involving five individuals with asymmetric gait found that these individuals could effectively control the speed of locomotion and perceive gait asymmetry during the training session. Although minimal changes in overground gait symmetry were observed immediately following a single training session, further studies should be done to determine the IVERT's potential as a tool for rehabilitation of asymmetric gait by providing patients with congruent visual and proprioceptive feedback.

Published in:

Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 3 )

Date of Publication:

June 2011

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