The Effect of a Cognitive Dual Task on the Control of Minimum Toe Clearance While Walking

in Motor Control
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The aim of the current study was to evaluate the effect of a cognitive dual task on minimum toe clearance (MTC) variability while walking. In a randomized cross-over design, gait kinematics of 25 older (70 ± 6 years) and 45 younger adults (25 ± 2 years) were captured during normal walking and dual-task walking. Variability of stride time, stride length, and MTC were calculated. Differences between normal versus dual-task walking were assessed using Wilcoxon tests. Compared with normal walking, dual-task walking caused an increase in stride time variability (older adults: p < .001 and younger adults: p < .001), while the variability of MTC decreased (older adults: p = .032 and younger adults: p = .012). MTC seems to be a task-relevant gait parameter that is controlled with high priority to preserve its variability under challenging conditions.

Daniel Hamacher, Müller, and Zech are with the Institute of Sport Science, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Germany. Dennis Hamacher and Schega are with Dept. Sport Science, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany. Müller is with the Dept. of Neurology/Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery, Klinikum Bayreuth GmbH, Bayreuth, Germany.

Address author correspondence to Dennis Hamacher at dennis.hamacher@ovgu.de.
Motor Control
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