Obstacle Avoidance. The acquisition and performance of a locomotor task.
[S.l.] : [S.n.]
Number of pages
KUN Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, 29 november 2004
Promotores : Gielen, C.C.A.M., Dietz, V.
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Medical Physics and Biophysics
SubjectUMCN 3.2: Cognitive neurosciences
The ability to walk and thus change one’s position within the environment is a normal daily activity for most people. One does not consciously need to think how the walking pattern should be adapted to the environmental requirements. However, this might occur when normal walking becomes impaired, for example after an injury. The work in this thesis centers on one of the first motor learning experiments that evaluates changes in the acquisition and performance of a task involving the lower extremity. The functional task consists of avoiding an obstacle. While walking on a treadmill, subjects had to step repetitively as low as possible over a randomly approaching obstacle, without touching it. Foot clearance over the obstacle, number of obstacle hits, changes in muscle activity and joint kinematics were measured and analyzed. The main goals of the experiments were to investigate (1) the underlying mechanisms involved in learning to adapt locomotion, and (2) the influence of factors such as age or disease on this process. The results from these experiments will support further recommendations for rehabilitation or sports. In chapter 1, the control of locomotion and ‘motor learning’ is reviewed. The other chapters focus on the experiments. Chapter 2 describes whether the obstacle avoidance task could be transferred from one leg to the other and chapter 3 describes what occurs with the performance of the task, when ankle-foot and / or knee orthoses fixate the joints of the leg that does not step over the obstacle. Chapter 4 describes the effect on the H-reflex when learning such a locomotor task. Chapter 5 describes the differences between healthy young and elderly subjects when learning such a task. Finally, in chapter 6, differences are described between healthy subjects and subjects who recovered well from an incomplete spinal cord injury.
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