The relationship between lower limb proprioceptive sense and locomotor skill acquisition
Sensorimotor integration is essential for controlling movement and acquiring new motor tasks in humans. The aim of this project was to understand how lower limb proprioceptive sense contributes to the acquisition of a skilled walking task. We assessed lower limb joint position and movement detection sense in healthy human subjects using the Lokomat robotic exoskeleton. Subjects walked on a treadmill to practice a skilled motor task (200 trials) requiring them to match their foot height during the swing phase to the height of a virtual obstacle displayed on a monitor in front of them. Subjects were given visual feedback on their error relative to the obstacle height after it was crossed. Lower limb joint position sense was related to the final performance error, but not the learning rate of the skilled walking task. The findings from this study support the role of lower limb proprioceptive sense on locomotor skill performance in healthy adult subjects.