Role Vision Plays as it relates to Balance & Walking

Name:______________________________ Score: _________________

Introduction: This lab consists of several experiments that investigates the role vision, perception, senses, and balance plays in controlling movement skills. The first activity investigates the role vision plays in maintaining one's balance. The second activity investigates the effects of visual memory on the locomotor skills of walking.

Activity I: Balance & Vision

Purpose: The purpose of this activity is to determine the effects of vision on one's ability to balance.

Procedures: Researchers have studied balance by using the apparatus called a stabilometer. With the stabilometer, the subject balances on the platform suspended on a single axis. The subject places one foot one each side of the platform, similar to attempting to balance on the center of a seesaw. While balancing, you will be asked, "maintain your stance, keep your head up and steady" when balancing with your eye's open and closed. You will attempt to balance four time, twice with vision and twice with the eye's closed. Each time you balance will be for a period of 30 seconds. The number of seconds that you are in balance will be scored. Record your individual and total balance scores in the table 1.

Table I Eyes open Eyes Closed
Trial 1    
Trial 2    
Total time    

The second activity involving balance is to determine how one should train a client or student in how to maintain their balance. In the past, physical therapist, teachers, and athletic trainers have focused on strengthing the core muscles as their primary training program to improve one's balance. Recently, research has shown improvement in one's balance by cueing the client to look at an external object or spot located on the wall or in the background. This attentional focus strategy is called an external focus. A simple but effective activity to demonstrate this strategy is to compare one's external focus to that of an internal focu while balancing. An internal focus would be focusing one attention to their legs and body rather than the spot on the wall or object in the background. Today, PT's, AT's, and teachers are not only working with the client or student in developing their core muscles but also providing them with an effective attention strategy that will improve one's balance and prevent fall.

Procedure: With the stabiometer, the subject will again balance on the stabiometer. The subject will focus their attention to the black dot taped to the wall for two- 30 second trials (external focus)then perform another two-30 second balance trials where the subject focuses their attention on the tension of their legs (internal focus). Record your time in balance (msec) results in table 2 below.

  External focus Internal Focus
Trial 1    
Trial 2    
Total Time    

Activity II: Vision & Walking

Purpose: Purpose of this activity is to demonstrate how vision and memory work together to influence how one controls a well learned but simple locomotor skill of walking. Suppose the telephone rang and you had to walk across the room to answer it. Then imagine what would happen if the lights suddenly went out and you were pitched into total darkness along the way to the phone. How would you be affected? This lab will answer the question by simulating the time and distance to get to the phone.

Task: The task is to walk to a target that is 3, 6, or 9 meters placed on the floor from a starting position under the following conditions: 1) the subject walks with eyes open when looking straight ahead without having your head down looking at the floor, 2) the subject is asked to close their eyes and walk to the target area immediately, and 3) the subject is asked to close their eyes and wait for a period of 20 seconds before walking to the target.

Procedure: The floor has been marked in the hallway with masking tap marked at the three distances from the starting line. Use table 2 below as your guide in ordering the trials and conditions. Follow the instructions very carefully or this lab will not answer the question about what may happen if the phone rings and lights go off while walking to the lab. Before each trial, the subject needs to see the target area chosen by the experimenter before each trial. The experimenter will give the subject a ready signal then provide them with one of the following verbal instructions: 1) "look straight ahead (eyes open condition) and walk to the target", 2) "close your eyes and immediately walk to the target area", and 3) Close your eyes then count slowly out loud to 20 second delay then walk to the target area." Be on task and if any subject does not follow the instruction have them repeat the trial!

Measure the subject's walking to the target area in terms of accuracy and time. From their first visual movement to their last, time how long it take they to walk to the target area. Secondly, record the distance from the line to the nearest full cm. Always use the subject's front of their right or left foot as the reference for determining the time and distance from the target. Record the time and distance of each trial on Table 3.

Table 3

Trial Target Condition Time (msec) Distance(cm)
1
9m
Open    
2
3m
Closed/no delay    
3
6m
Closed/delay    
4
9m
Closed/delay    
5
3m
Open    
6
6m
Closed/no delay    
7
3m
Closed/delay    
8
6m
Open    
9
9m
Closed/no delay    

From the results in Table 3, organize your individual data so you can analyze your performances across each condition (nearest msec and cm).

 
Open
Closed/no delay
Closed/Delayed
Target
Msec
cm
Msec
cm
Msec
cm
3m            
6m            
9m            
Means            

Lab questions:

1. On pages 204-211 of your text, the author discussed the connection between balance and falling, especially in the aged population. No matter what population group, young or old, the physical therapist, movement specialist, athletic trainer or physical education will work with the client/student to control their postural sway so they can maintain a upright position. Was your ability to balance effected by your eye's being open versus eye's closed? Was your ability to balance effected by the attentional strategy? What would you expect will happen with one's postural sway with age? With gender? Did your vision versus no vision balance results support the contentions of the British researchers? According to the text, what one intervention was cited that could be a key to preventing fall in all population groups especially the elderly? Why is it important to instruct people to keep their "head up and steady" when balancing?

2. There are many factors to analyze in the second activity. First the affects of distanced walked within and across the three conditions. Obviously, walking speed is affected by the distances. So we would expect it would take more time to walk 9m as compared to 6m and 6ms to 3ms. But what happened to one's walking speed when the distance was same across the different conditions? Was there one conditions that affected walking speed the most when you examined the 3 distances? Lastly, was there one distance and conditions where you performed the worst, that is where speed of walk and acccuracy were both greatly negatively affected? Overall which condition did your perform the best? Your task is to write me a summary of the results in this activity that include the above factors, I have identified. Just don't give me generalization but integrate your data to support and explain your findings.