Human movement based on sensory control is significant to motor task performance. Thus, impairments to sensory input significantly limit feedback-type motor control. The present study introduces a vibrotactile biofeedback (BF) system which augments information regarding the user's foot pressure to enhance gait performance. The effects of the proposed system on the gait patterns of healthy older adults and on the cognitive load during gait were evaluated; these factors are essential to clarify feasibility of the device in real-life settings. The primary task of our study was to evaluate gait along with a cognitively demanding activity in 10 healthy older adults. Regarding kinematic and kinetic data in the BF condition, the subjects had significantly increased ankle dorsiflexion during the heel contact phase in the sagittal plane and marginally increased foot pressure at the toe-offand stride length. However, such kinematic and kinetic changes were not attributed to the increased walking speed. In addition, cognitive performance (i.e., the number of correct answers) was significantly decreased in participants during gait measurements in the BF condition. These data suggest that the system had the potential for modifying the kinematic and kinetic patterns during walking but not the more comprehensive walking performance in older adults. Moreover, the device appears to place a cognitive load on older adults. This short report provides crucial primary data that would help in designing successful sensory augmentation devices and further research on a BF system.
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