Many individuals, such as persons with spinal cord injury (SCI), rely on wheeled locomotion involving manual (MWC) or power (PWC) wheelchairs to navigate their environments. Yet, visuo-locomotor control underlying WC navigation in experienced users is not well understood. The objective of this study was to compare the visuo-locomotor control between MWC and PWC in individuals with SCI while changing direction and circumventing an obstacle. Participants with SCI using a MWC (n = 12, 38.5 ± 10.7 years) or a PWC (n = 10, 47.8 ± 8.6 years) were asked to maneuver their chair straight ahead, while changing direction 45° to the right, and while circumventing an obstacle to the right, all at self-selected speeds. Speed, minimal clearance, point of deviation, temporal body and WC coordination, relative timing of segment rotations and visual behavior were analyzed. There was no main effect of group for speed, clearance and point of deviation. During direction change, the head always led body and wheelchair reorientation while an “en bloc” strategy was used for circumventing obstacle for both groups. In straight-ahead locomotion, participants predominantly fixed their gaze on the end target. During direction change and obstacle circumvention, participants fixated more on the future path and the obstacle for both WC modes. Overall, specific gaze behavior depended on environmental demands. While MWC and PWC users adopt similar navigational strategies and visuo-locomotor coordination while changing direction and circumventing obstacle, there were some differences in the amount of head rotation that could be related to a counter-movement used more by PWC users.
Experimental Brain Research – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 5, 2017
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