Background: Vision plays an important role in supporting efficient locomotion. The present study aimed to measure the physiological cost index (PCI) and some kinematic parameters of preferred walking and jogging in blind and sighted students.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among blind (n=18) and sighted (n=27) students aged 8-16 years. The following parameters were measured during a standard test procedure: step length (meter), cadence (steps/min), mean speed (meter/min), and the PCI of preferred walking (PCIW) and jogging (PCIJ) over a distance of 100 meters.
Results: Univariate linear regression analysis revealed that the weight of an individual as well as the test duration were significant predictors of heart rate (HR) and PCI. Overall, the PCI (beats/meter) of sighted (PCIW=0.22±0.08 and PCIJ=0.24±0.07) and blind students (PCIW=0.27±0.07 and PCIJ=0.31±0.08) were significantly different (all P≤0.05). In addition, the speed of preferred walking (PW) in sighted students was significantly higher than that of the blind students (67±8 versus 62.8±9 m/min; all P≤0.05), while this difference was insignificant in jogging mode (105±9 versus 102±11 m/min).
Conclusion: Although the blind students were familiar with the ambient environment and the walking route, they demonstrated a different pattern of PW and jogging modes with respect to kinematic parameters. We also demonstrated that the blind students spent more energy (i.e., PCI) to achieve a lower or equal gait kinematics compared to the sighted students.