Slower than normal walking speeds involve a pattern shift in joint and temporal coordination contributions

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Experimental Brain Research


Kinematic and spatiotemporal gait parameters are known to scale with gait speed, though inter-joint coordination during swing remains consistent, at least across comfortable speeds. The purpose of this study was to determine whether coordination patterns serving limb clearance and shortening change across a range of gait speeds. We assessed 17 healthy adults walking overground at their self-selected speed and multiple, progressively slower speeds. We collected lower extremity kinematics with 3D motion analysis and quantified joint influence, or relative joint contributions, to limb clearance and shortening. We investigated changes in coordination using linear mixed models to determine magnitude and timing differences of joint influence across walking speeds. Joint influences serving limb clearance (hip, knee, and ankle) reduced considerably with slower walking speeds. Similarly, knee and ankle influences on limb shortening reduced with slower walking speeds. Temporally, joint influences on limb clearance varied across walking speeds. Notably, the temporal order of peak hip and knee influences reversed below typical self-selected walking speeds. For limb shortening, the timing of knee and ankle influences occurred later in the gait cycle as walking speed decreased. While relative joint contributions serve limb clearance and shortening scale with walking speeds, our results demonstrate that temporal coordination of limb clearance is altered in healthy individuals as walking speed falls below the range of typical self-selected walking speeds.

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Little VL, McGuirk TE, Patten C. Slower than normal walking speeds involve a pattern shift in joint and temporal coordination contributions. Exp Brain Res. 2019 Nov;237(11):2973-2982. doi: 10.1007/s00221-019-05648-2. Epub 2019 Sep 11. PMID: 31511954.

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