Optical flow balance perturbations alter gait kinematics and variability in chronic ankle instability patients

Kyeongtak Song, Jason R. Franz, Erik A. Wikstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Individuals with chronic ankle instability (CAI) have known balance impairments thought to be the result of an inability to reweight sensory information. CAI patients place greater emphasis on visual information during single-limb stance than healthy controls but this evidence is based on removing visual information during static conditions. Research question: Does perturbed optical flow effect step kinematics and variability in those with CAI differently than healthy controls? What is the relationship among ankle laxity, plantar cutaneous sensation, and susceptibility to perturbed optical flow in those with CAI? Methods: 17 CAI patients and 17 healthy individuals participated in a crossover experimental study. Participants walked on a treadmill at 1.25 m/s while watching a speed-matched virtual hallway with and without continuous mediolateral (ML) optical flow perturbations. Three-dimensional pelvic and foot kinematics were recorded at 100 Hz for at least 300 consecutive steps in each condition. Step width (SW) and step length (SL) values were calculated from consecutive heel positions. Gait variability was characterized as the standard deviation of step width (SWV), step length (SLV), and ML sacrum motion (SMV) across all steps performed in each condition. Results: The CAI group exhibited a greater change in SWV (p = 0.037), SLV (p = 0.040), and ML SMV (p = 0.047) from the perturbed to unperturbed conditions relative to the healthy controls. A condition main effect was also noted for SW (p < 0.001) and SL (p < 0.001) as ML optical flow perturbations resulted in significant changes in SW and SL relative to the normal walking condition. Significance: Walking with ML optical flow perturbations induced greater variability changes in those with CAI relative to controls. When combined with the existing literature, this finding suggests that CAI individuals have a greater reliance on visual information in both static and dynamic (i.e. walking gait) conditions relative to healthy individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-276
Number of pages6
JournalGait and Posture
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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