Journal Article

When an object appears unexpectedly: Object circumvention in adults


Obstacles often appear unexpectedly in our pathway and these require us to make immediate adjustments. Despite how regularly we encounter such situations only few studies have considered how we adjust to unexpected obstacles in the pathway which require us to walk around them. The current study considered how adults adjust to the possibility of an obstacle appearing and then also how foot placement is adjusted to circumvent an obstacle. Fifteen healthy adults walked down an 11m walkway, initially they were told this was a clear pathway and nothing in the environment would change (no gate), they then performed a series of trials in which a gate may (gate close) or may not (gate open) partially obstruct their pathway. We found that medio-lateral trunk velocity and acceleration was significantly increased when there was the possibility of an obstacle but before the obstacle appeared. This demonstrates an adaptive walking strategy which seems to enable healthy young adults to successfully circumvent obstacles. We also categorised foot placement adjustments and found that adults favoured making shorter and wider steps away from the obstacle. We suggest this combination of adjustments allows participants to maintain stability whilst successfully circumventing the obstacle.

Attached files


Wilmut, Kate
Du, Wenchong
Barnett, Anna L.

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Psychology, Social Work and Public Health


Year of publication: 2017
Date of RADAR deposit: 2016-09-27

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of When an object appears unexpectedly: Object circumvention in adults
This RADAR resource is Cited by Navigational abilities in individuals with and without Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), Phase 4: Unexpected obstacle avoidance typical adults


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