Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2023

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering


Babak Hejrati

Second Committee Member

Vincent Cassese

Third Committee Member

Andrew Goupee


While the use of tactile feedback for modifying gait has recently shown promising results in a number of research studies, there has been little attention given to its ability to effect change in the gait of older adults nor has the effect of the frequency of this feedback been examined. Given the important associations of walking speed with the health of older adults, the goal of this study was to determine if a recently developed haptic feedback system could increase the walking speed of older adults and whether the frequency at which this feedback was provided would have an impact on the results. In order to achieve a faster walking speed, peak thigh extension was selected as a biomechanical surrogate for stride length with vibrotactile haptic feedback being provided to the thighs to increase that parameter and, consequently, increase speed. Further, the influence of the frequency of the feedback on several other gait parameters was also investigated. Ten healthy older adults (68.4 ± 4.1 years) were recruited for this study, in which their peak thigh extension, cadence, normalized stride length, and normalized stride velocity, as well as their coefficients of variation (COV), were compared among six different experimental conditions.

The study’s findings demonstrated that when compared to their pretest values, older people using the haptic feedback device had considerably longer peak thigh extensions during both post-tests and feedback walking conditions. The longer stride length made possible by this more extended thigh angle allowed for a corresponding rise in walking velocity. Surprisingly, none of the gait metrics examined were substantially impacted by the feedback’s frequency. In other words, regardless of how frequently the input was given, the haptic feedback device was successful in improving elderly people’s walking abilities. These results indicate the haptic feedback device has the potential to enhance gait speed, stride length, and stride velocity, which are essential elements involved with keeping independence and mobility in older people.

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