The influence of carrying an anterior load on attention demand and obstacle clearance before, during, and after obstacle crossing

Deborah A. Jehu, Deanna Saunders, Natalie Richer, Nicole Paquet, Yves Lajoie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Carrying an anterior load during obstacle negotiation increases attention demand, which may differ at various crossing stages. Less is known on the impact of lower visual field obstruction and the weight of the anterior load on obstacle negotiation and attention demand. The objectives of this study were to: (1) determine if carrying a weighted anterior load, lower visual field occlusion, or both, modify obstacle clearance and/or reaction time (RT); and (2) examine whether RT is modulated across obstacle crossing phases as measured by a probe RT protocol. Sixteen young adults crossed an obstacle while carrying no load, a clear 5 kg load, and an opaque 5 kg load, while performing a simple RT task. Auditory stimuli were presented at five locations: (1) two steps before the obstacle; (2) one step before the obstacle; (3) as the leading limb crossed the obstacle; (4) as the lead limb touched down after the obstacle; and (5) as the trail limb crossed the obstacle. The toe clearance height of the leading limb was greatest for the weighted opaque box load type followed by the weighted clear box type compared to the no box load type. Carrying an anterior load during obstacle crossing did not influence RT. RTs were longer at the pre-crossing and beginning of the crossing phases compared to after-crossing phases. Results suggest that carrying a weighted anterior load and lower visual field occlusion increase the risk for tripping. Attention demands differ across obstacle crossing phases during dual-tasking and should be considered in fall-risk assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3313-3319
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Volume237
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Anterior load
  • Attention
  • Carrying
  • Obstacle clearance
  • Vision occlusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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