Cellular Phone Texting Impairs Gait in Able-bodied Young Adults

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Nicholas D. Parr University of Florida

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Chris J. Hass University of Florida

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Mark D. Tillman Troy University

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Cellular phone texting has become increasingly popular, raising the risk of distraction-related injuries. The purpose of this study was to compare alterations in gait parameters during normal gait as opposed to walking while texting. Thirty able-bodied young adults (age = 20 ± 2 y, height = 171 ± 40 cm, mass = 61.7 ± 11.2 kg) who reported texting on a regular basis were tested using an 11-camera optical motion capture system as they walked across an 8 m, obstacle-free floor. A reduction in velocity (P < .05) was seen along with additional significant changes in spatial and temporal parameters. Specifically, step width and double stance time increased, while toe clearance, step length, and cadence decreased. Although many of the changes in spatial and temporal parameters generally accompany slowed gait, the complex distraction task used here may have amplified these potentially deleterious effects. The combination of the slower gait velocity and decrease in attention to the surrounding environment suggests that an individual who is texting while walking could be at a greater risk of injury. Tripping injuries while texting could be more likely due to the decreased toe clearance. In addition, increased step width may increase the likelihood of stepping on an unstable surface or colliding with obstacles in close proximity.

Nicholas D. Parr and Chris J. Hass are with the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Mark D. Tillman is with the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, Troy University, Troy, AL. Address author correspondence to Mark D. Tillman at mdtillman@troy.edu.

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