Long cane research to improve health and well-being of the visually impaired

Photo of Dr. Dae KimDepartment of Blindness and Low Vision Studies Associate Professor Dr. Dae Kim has been awarded a grant of $421,125 from the National Institutes of Health's National Eye Institute for his research to improve health outcomes of visually impaired individuals through better long cane design and cane-use biomechanics.

Individuals with visual impairments are more prone to falls and subsequent serious injuries and even deaths. Also, a decrease in activity level and diminished independent mobility can negatively impact a visually impaired individual’s quality of life.

The goal of Kim’s study is to obtain knowledge on how to improve ergonomic design and cane biomechanics so that long cane users will be able to accurately and safely detect drop-offs and obstacles on their walking paths.

With the knowledge obtained from the study, long canes can be redesigned and cane-use biomechanics can be altered—and taught by orientation and mobility instructors—to enable blind individuals to detect hazards on their walking paths more reliably, thus reducing the risk of falls and fall-induced injuries.