The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the effect of a lower body positive pressure support system on the joint kinematics and activity of the lower extremity antigravity musculature of adults and children during walking. Adults (age = 25 ± 4 years) and children (age = 13 ± 2 years) walked at a preferred speed and a speed that was based on the Froude number, while 0–80% of their body weight was supported. Electrogoniometers were used to monitor knee and ankle joint kinematics. Surface electromyography was used to quantify the magnitude of the vastus lateralis and gastrocnemius muscle activity. There were three key findings: (1) The lower extremity joint angles and activity of the lower extremity antigravity muscles of children did not differ from those of adults. (2) The magnitude of the changes in the lower extremity joint motion and antigravity muscle activity was dependent upon an interaction between body weight support and walking speed. (3) Lower body positive pressure support resulted in reduced activation of the antigravity musculature, and reduced range of motion of the knee and ankle joints.
Max J. Kurz (Corresponding Author), Joan E. Deffeyes, David J. Arpin, and Wayne A. Stuberg are with the Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE. Gregory M. Karst is with the Division of Physical Therapy Education, School of Allied Health Professions, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE.