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IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2014 Jun;61(6):1628-33. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2013.2294672.

Investigating the role of vibrotactile noise in early response to perturbation.

Abstract

Timely reaction to perturbation is important in activities of daily living. Modulation of reaction time to and early recovery from perturbation via vibrotactile noise was investigated. It was hypothesized that subthreshold vibrotactile noise applied to the upper extremity can accelerate a person's reaction to and recovery from handle perturbation. This intervention was developed based on previous studies in which the earliest cue available for people to detect handle perturbation was somatosensation detecting changes in pressure on the hand whose sensitivity can improve with subthreshold vibrotactile noise. To induce a handle perturbation, a sudden upward load was applied to the handle that subjects were lightly grasping. Eighteen healthy subjects were instructed to stop the handle from moving up when they detected the perturbation. The muscle reaction time and handle stabilization time with and without vibrotactile noise were determined. The results showed that the muscle reaction time and handle stabilization time significantly decreased by 3 ms ( ) and 6 ms ( ), respectively, when vibrotactile noise was applied to the upper extremity, regardless of where the noise was applied among four different locations within the upper extremity ( p > 0.05). In conclusion, the application of subthreshold vibrotactile noise enhanced persons' muscle reaction time to handle perturbation and led to early recovery from the perturbation. Use of the vibrotactile noise may increase a person's ability to rapidly respond to perturbation of a grasped object in potentially dangerous situations such as holding onto ladder rungs from elevation or manipulating knives.

PMID:
24845272
DOI:
10.1109/TBME.2013.2294672
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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