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Effects of walking speed on the step-by-step control of step width

Effects of walking speed on the step-by-step control of step width

Journal of Biomechanics 68: 78-83

ISSN/ISBN: 0021-9290

PMID: 29306549

DOI: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2017.12.026

Young, healthy adults walking at typical preferred speeds use step-by-step adjustments of step width to appropriately redirect their center of mass motion and ensure mediolateral stability. However, it is presently unclear whether this control strategy is retained when walking at the slower speeds preferred by many clinical populations. We investigated whether the typical stabilization strategy is influenced by walking speed. Twelve young, neurologically intact participants walked on a treadmill at a range of prescribed speeds (0.2-1.2 m/s). The mediolateral stabilization strategy was quantified as the proportion of step width variance predicted by the mechanical state of the pelvis throughout a step (calculated as R2 magnitude from a multiple linear regression). Our ability to accurately predict the upcoming step width increased over the course of a step. The strength of the relationship between step width and pelvis mechanics at the start of a step was reduced at slower speeds. However, these speed-dependent differences largely disappeared by the end of a step, other than at the slowest walking speed (0.2 m/s). These results suggest that mechanics-dependent adjustments in step width are a consistent component of healthy gait across speeds and contexts. However, slower walking speeds may ease this control by allowing mediolateral repositioning of the swing leg to occur later in a step, thus encouraging slower walking among clinical populations with limited sensorimotor control.

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Accession: 060668224

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