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Journal Article


Buhler MA, Lamontagne A. IEEE Trans. Neural Syst. Rehabil. Eng. 2022; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2022, IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers))






Community ambulation requires efficient locomotor adaptations to avoid collisions with other pedestrians. Virtual reality (VR) offers the possibility to experimentally manipulate the environment, allowing researchers to safely assess locomotor responses during pedestrian interactions. In this paper, locomotor adjustments in response to interferers approaching from different directions were examined in both a physical and a virtual environment. Further analysis compared the extent to which locomotor adjustments were influenced by different circumvention strategies. To achieve these goals, twelve healthy young participants were assessed while walking towards a target and avoiding pedestrians approaching from the left, middle, or right, in both VR and the real world.

RESULTS showed that in VR, participants walked with slower velocities, maintained larger minimum distances, and reached larger trajectory deviations. Additionally, trajectory deviations and postural reorientations were executed earlier in VR. There were additional differences according to whether participants had to give way to a head-on approaching interferer or choose to pass in front or behind a diagonally approaching interferer. Compared to the other circumvention strategies, passing in front was associated with faster walking speeds as well as smaller and later trajectory deviations and postural reorientations. Lastly, while a cephalocaudal sequence of segment reorientation was observed in both environments, no difference between the onset of head and thorax reorientation was observed in VR. In conclusion, obstacle clearance and postural reorientation are modulated by the environment and circumvention strategies. These modulations should be considered when designing experiments or clinical interventions.

Language: en


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