Visual deprivation is met with active changes in ground reaction forces to minimize worsening balance and stability during walking

  • Otella Shoja
  • Alireza FarsiEmail author
  • Farzad Towhidkhah
  • Anatol G. Feldman
  • Behrouz Abdoli
  • Alireza Bahramian
Research Article


Previous studies suggest that visual information is essential for balance and stability of locomotion. We investigated whether visual deprivation is met with active reactions tending to minimize worsening balance and stability during walking in humans. We evaluated effects of vision on kinetic characteristics of walking on a treadmill-ground reaction forces (GRFs) and shifts in the center of mass (COM). Young adults (n = 10) walked on a treadmill at a comfortable speed. We measured three orthogonal components of GRFs and COM shifts during no-vision (NV) and full-vision (FV) conditions. We also computed the dynamic balance index (DN)—the perpendicular distance from the projection of center of mass (pCOM) to the inter-foot line (IFL) normalized to half of the foot length. Locally weighted regression smoothing with alpha-adjusted serial T tests was used to compare GRFs and DN between two conditions during the entire stance phase. Results showed significant differences in GRFs between FV and NV conditions in vertical and ML directions. Variability of peak forces of all three components of GRF increased in NV condition. We also observed significant increase in DN for NV condition in eight out of ten subjects. The pCOM was kept within BOS during walking, in both conditions, suggesting that body stability was actively controlled by adjusting three components of GRFs during NV walking to minimize stability loss and preserve balance.


Locomotion Balance Stability Kinetics Base of support Variability 



We thank Philippe Gourdou for help in data collection and analysis.


This study was supported by the National Science Engineering Research of Canada.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


  1. Black DP, Smith BA, Wu J, Ulrich BD (2007) Uncontrolled manifold analysis of segmental angle variability during walking: preadolescents with and without down syndrome. Exp Brain Res 183:511–521. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Cho S-Y, Ryu Y-U, Je HD et al (2013) Effects of illumination on toe clearance and gait parameters of older adults when stepping over an obstacle: a pilot study. J Phys Ther Sci 25:229–232. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chockalingam N, Dangerfield PH, Rahmatalla A et al (2004) Assessment of ground reaction force during scoliotic gait. Eur Spine J 13:750–754. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Collins SH, Kuo AD (2013) Two independent contributions to step variability during over-ground human walking. PLoS One. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Donelan JM, Shipman DW, Kram R, Kuo AD (2004) Mechanical and metabolic requirements for active lateral stabilization in human walking. J Biomech 37:827–835. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Dubreucq L, Mereu A, Blanc G et al (2017) Introducing a psychological postural threat alters gait and balance parameters among young participants but not among most older participants. Exp Brain Res 235:1429–1438. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Feldman AG, Krasovsky T, Baniña MC et al (2011) Changes in the referent body location and configuration may underlie human gait, as confirmed by findings of multi-muscle activity minimizations and phase resetting. Exp Brain Res 210:91–115. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Fitts PM, Posner MI (1967) Human performance. Brooks/Cole, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Forssberg H (1982) Spinal locomotor functions and descending control. In: Brainstem control of spinal mechanisms. Elsevier Biomedical, Amsterdam, pp 253–271Google Scholar
  10. Gibson JJ (1998) Visually controlled locomotion and visual orientation in animals (reprinted from British Journal of Psychology, vol 49, pg 182–194, 1958). Ecol Psychol 10:161–176. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Grillner S, Wallen P (1985) Central pattern generators for locomotion, with special reference to vertebrates. Annu Rev Neurosci 8:233–261. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Hallemans A, Beccu S, Van Loock K et al (2009a) Visual deprivation leads to gait adaptations that are age- and context-specific: II. Kinematic parameters. Gait Posture 30:307–311. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Hallemans A, Beccu S, Van Loock K et al (2009b) Visual deprivation leads to gait adaptations that are age- and context-specific: I. Step-time parameters. Gait Posture 30:55–59. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Hallemans A, Ortibus E, Meire F, Aerts P (2010) Low vision affects dynamic stability of gait. Gait Posture 32:547–551. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Hollands MA, Marple-Horvat DE (1996) Visually guided stepping under conditions of step cycle-related denial of visual information. Exp Brain Res 109:343–356. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Hollands MA, Patla AE, Vickers JN (2002) “Look where you’re going!”: gaze behaviour associated with maintaining and changing the direction of locomotion. Exp Brain Res 143:221–230. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Hsiang SM, Chang C (2002) The effect of gait speed and load carrying on the reliability of ground reaction forces. Saf Sci 40:639–657. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Iosa M, Fusco A, Morone G, Paolucci S (2012) Effects of visual deprivation on gait dynamic stability. Sci World J 2012:1–7. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jahn K, Strupp M, Schneider E et al (2001) Visually induced gait deviations during different locomotion speeds. Exp Brain Res 141:370–374. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Karlsson A, Frykberg G (2000) Correlations between force plate measures for assessment of balance. Clin Biomech 15:365–369. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kruger KM, Graf A, Flanagan A et al (2019) Segmental foot and ankle kinematic differences between rectus, planus, and cavus foot types. J Biomech 94:180–186. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Latash ML, Scholz JP, Schöner G (2007) Toward a new theory of motor synergies. Mot Control 11:276–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lugade V, Lin V, Chou LS (2011) Center of mass and base of support interaction during gait. Gait Posture 33:406–411. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Maeda RS, O’Connor SM, Donelan JM, Marigold DS (2017) Foot placement relies on state estimation during visually guided walking. J Neurophysiol 117:480–491. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Masani K, Kouzaki M, Fukunaga T (2002) Variability of ground reaction forces during treadmill walking. J Appl Physiol 92:1885–1890. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Matthis JS, Yates JL, Hayhoe MM (2018) Gaze and the control of foot placement when walking in natural terrain. Curr Biol 28:1224–1233.e5. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  27. McAndrew PM, Dingwell JB, Wilken JM (2010) Walking variability during continuous pseudo-random oscillations of the support surface and visual field. J Biomech 43:1470–1475. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. McAndrew PM, Wilken JM, Dingwell JB (2011) Dynamic stability of human walking in visually and mechanically destabilizing environments. J Biomech 44:644–649. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Miller AB, Lajoie K, Strath RA et al (2018) Coordination of gaze behavior and foot placement during walking in persons with glaucoma. J Glaucoma 27:55–63. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Nicholson K, Church C, Takata C et al (2018) Comparison of three-dimensional multi-segmental foot models used in clinical gait laboratories. Gait Posture 63:236–241. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Niiler T (2017) The problem of multiple comparisons between groups of time dependent data. In: Gait Clin. Mov. Anal. Soc. Annu. MeetGoogle Scholar
  32. Niiler T (2018a) Assessing dynamic balance in children with cerebral palsy. In: Miller F, Bachrach S, Lennon N, O’Neil M (eds) Cerebral palsy. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp 1–32Google Scholar
  33. Niiler T (2018b) Measures to determine dynamic balance. In: Müller B, Wolf S (eds) Handbook of human motion. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp 887–913CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Niiler T (2020) Comparing groups of time dependent data using locally weighted scatterplot smoothing alpha-adjusted serial T-tests. Gait Posture 76:58–63. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Niiler T, Janick T (2017) The utility of passive dynamic walkers as a proxy for humans in dynamic balance studies. Gait Posture 57:356–357. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. O’Connor SM, Kuo AD (2009) Direction-dependent control of balance during walking and standing. J Neurophysiol 102:1411–1419. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Oliveira AS, Schlink BR, Hairston WD et al (2017) Restricted vision increases sensorimotor cortex involvement in human walking. J Neurophysiol 118:1943–1951. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  38. Papi E, Rowe PJ, Pomeroy VM (2015) Analysis of gait within the uncontrolled manifold hypothesis: stabilisation of the centre of mass during gait. J Biomech 48:324–331. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Patla AE (1997) Understanding the roles of vision in the control of human locomotion. Gait Posture 5:54–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Patla AE (2003) Strategies for dynamic stability during adaptive human locomotion. IEEE Eng Med Biol Mag 22:48–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Qu X (2012) Uncontrolled manifold analysis of gait variability: effects of load carriage and fatigue. Gait Posture 36:325–329. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Redfern MS, Schumann T (1994) A model of foot placement during gait. J Biomech 27:1339–1346. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Reynolds RF, Day BL (2005) Visual guidance of the human foot during a step. J Physiol 569:677–684. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  44. Rhea CK, Rietdyk S (2007) Visual exteroceptive information provided during obstacle crossing did not modify the lower limb trajectory. Neurosci Lett 418:60–65. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Rietdyk S, Rhea CK (2006) Control of adaptive locomotion: effect of visual obstruction and visual cues in the environment. Exp Brain Res 169:272–278. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Rietdyk S, McGlothlin JD, Williams JL, Baria AT (2005) Proactive stability control while carrying loads and negotiating an elevated surface. Exp Brain Res 165:44–53. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Rose J, Gamble JG (2006) Human walking, 3rd edn. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  48. Scholz JP, Schöner G (1999) The uncontrolled manifold concept: Identifying control variables for a functional task. Exp Brain Res 126:289–306. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Uematsu A, Inoue K, Hobara H et al (2011) Preferred step frequency minimizes veering during natural human walking. Neurosci Lett 505:291–293. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Warren WH Jr (1998) Visually controlled locomotion: 40 years Later. Ecol Psychol 10:177–219. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Winter DA (1995) Human balance and posture control during standing and walking. Gait Posture 3:193–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Winter DA (2009) Biomechanics and motor control of human movement, 4th edn. Wiley, HobokenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. You JY, Chou YL, Lin CJ, Su FC (2001) Effect of slip on movement of body center of mass relative to base of support. Clin Biomech 16:167–173. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Otella Shoja
    • 1
  • Alireza Farsi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Farzad Towhidkhah
    • 2
  • Anatol G. Feldman
    • 3
    • 4
  • Behrouz Abdoli
    • 1
  • Alireza Bahramian
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences in Sport, Faculty of Sport Sciences and HealthShahid Beheshti UniversityTehranIran
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical EngineeringAmirkabir University of TechnologyTehranIran
  3. 3.Department of Neuroscience and Institute of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of MontrealMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation of Greater Montreal (CRIR)MontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations