Enriching footsteps sounds in gait rehabilitation in chronic stroke patients: a pilot study

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The New York Academy of Sciences
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In the context of neurorehabilitation, sound is being increasingly applied for facilitating sensorimotor learning. In this study, we aimed to test the potential value of auditory stimulation for improving gait in chronic stroke patients by inducing alterations of the frequency spectra of walking sounds via a sound system that selectively amplifies and equalizes the signal in order to produce distorted auditory feedback. Twenty‐two patients with lower extremity paresis were exposed to real‐time alterations of their footstep sounds while walking. Changes in body perception, emotion, and gait were quantified. Our results suggest that by altering footsteps sounds, several gait parameters can be modified in terms of left–right foot asymmetry. We observed that augmenting low‐frequency bands or amplifying the natural walking sounds led to a reduction in the asymmetry index of stance and stride times, whereas it inverted the asymmetry pattern in heel–ground exerted force. By contrast, augmenting high‐frequency bands led to opposite results. These gait changes might be related to updating of internal forward models, signaling the need for adjustment of the motor system to reduce the perceived discrepancies between predicted–actual sensory feedbacks. Our findings may have the potential to enhance gait awareness in stroke patients and other clinical conditions, supporting gait rehabilitation.
Auditory feedback, Forward model, Gait rehabilitation, Stroke
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Gomez‐Andres, A., Grau‐Sánchez, J., Duarte, E., Rodriguez‐Fornells, A. and Tajadura‐Jiménez, A. (2020), Enriching footsteps sounds in gait rehabilitation in chronic stroke patients: a pilot study. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci.. Special issue: Annals Reports.