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Anderson Nascimento Guimarães, Herbert Ugrinowitsch, Juliana Bayeux Dascal and Victor Hugo Alves Okazaki

To test Bernstein’s degrees of freedom (DF) hypothesis, the authors analyzed the effect of practice on the DF control and interjoint coordination of a Taekwondo kick. Thirteen inexperienced and 11 expert Taekwondo practitioners were evaluated. Contrary to Bernstein’s hypothesis, the inexperienced group froze the DF at the end of learning, reducing the joint range of motion of the knee. Moderate and strong cross-correlations between joints did not change, demonstrating that the interjoint coordination was maintained. The inexperienced group’s movement pattern was similar to that of the group of experts, from the beginning of the learning process. Thus, even after years of practice, experts continue to explore the strategy of freezing DF. The DF freeing/freezing sequence strategy was explored during the learning process, suggesting that DF-freezing/freeing strategies are task dependent.

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Jessica G. Hunter, Alexander M.B. Smith, Lena M. Sciarratta, Stephen Suydam, Jae Kun Shim and Ross H. Miller

Studies of running mechanics often use a standardized lab shoe, ostensibly to reduce variance between subjects; however, this may induce unnatural running mechanics. The purpose of this study was to compare the step rate, vertical average loading rate, and ground contact time when running in standardized lab shoes versus participants’ normal running shoes. Ground reaction forces were measured while the participants ran overground in both shoe conditions at a self-selected speed. The Student’s t-test revealed that the vertical average loading rate magnitude was smaller in lab shoes versus normal shoes (42.09 [11.08] vs 47.35 [10.81] body weight/s, P = .013), while the step rate (170.92 [9.43] vs 168.98 [9.63] steps/min, P = .053) and ground contact time were similar (253 [25] vs 251 [20] ms, P = .5227) and the variance of all outcomes was similar in lab shoes versus normal shoes. Our results indicate that using standardized lab shoes during testing may underestimate the loads runners actually experience during their typical mileage.

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Graig M. Chow, Matthew D. Bird, Nicole T. Gabana, Brandon T. Cooper and Martin A. Swanbrow Becker

Student-athletes are susceptible to mental health problems that disrupt optimal functioning and well-being. Despite having many protective factors, student-athletes represent an at-risk subgroup of college students who experience mental health concerns due to the distress of balancing multiple obligations. However, many student-athletes underutilize psychological services. Stigma is the main barrier preventing student-athletes from seeking help, and mental health literacy (MHL) interventions addressing knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders have traditionally been used to destigmatize mental illness. This study investigated the impact of a 4-week program on stigma, MHL, and attitudes and intentions toward seeking help with 33 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I student-athletes. The program was composed of four science-based interventions—MHL, empathy, counter stereotyping, and contact—delivered face-to-face within a group setting. MHL, attitudes toward seeking help, and intentions to seek counseling improved from preintervention to postintervention and to 1-month follow-up. Self-stigma was reduced from preintervention to postintervention.

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Stijn Schouppe, Jessica Van Oosterwijck, Jan R. Wiersema, Stefaan Van Damme, Tine Willems and Lieven Danneels

The contribution of central factors to movement preparation (e.g., the contingent negative variation [CNV]) and the influence of fatigue on such factors are still unclear, even though executive cognitive functions are regarded as key elements in motor control. Therefore, this study examined CNV amplitude with electroencephalography in 22 healthy humans during a rapid arm movement task prior to and following three experimental conditions: (a) a no exertion/control condition, (b) a physical exertion, and (c) a cognitive exertion. CNV amplitude was affected neither by a single bout of physical/cognitive exertion nor by the control condition. Furthermore, no time-on-task effects of the rapid arm movement task on the CNV were found. Exertion did not affect cortical movement preparation, which is in contrast to previous findings regarding time-on-task effects of exertion on CNV. Based on the current findings, the rapid arm movement task is deemed suitable to measure cortical movement preparation, without being affected by learning effects and physical/cognitive exertion.

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Lydia M. Kocher, Jonisha P. Pollard, Ashley E. Whitson and Mahiyar F. Nasarwanji

Footwear plays an important role in worker safety. Work boots with safety toes are often utilized at mine sites to protect workers from hazards. Increasingly, mining operations require metatarsal guards in addition to safety toe protection in boots. While these guards provide additional protection, the impact of metatarsal guards on gait are unknown. This study aimed to measure the effects of 4 safety work boots, steel toe, and steel toe with metatarsal protection in wader- and hiker-style boots, on level and inclined walking gait characteristics, during ascent and descent. A total of 10 participants completed this study. A motion capture system measured kinematics that allowed for the calculation of key gait parameters. Results indicated that gait parameters changed due to incline, similar to previous literature. Wader-style work boots reduced ankle range of motion when ascending an incline. Hip, knee, and ankle ranges of motion were also reduced during descent for this style of boot. Wader-style boots with metatarsal guards led to the smallest ankle range of motion when descending an inclined walkway. From these results, it is likely that boot style affects gait parameters and may impact a miner’s risk for slips, trips, or falls.

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Jim Potvin

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Sarah A. Roelker, Elena J. Caruthers, Rachel K. Hall, Nicholas C. Pelz, Ajit M.W. Chaudhari and Robert A. Siston

Two optimization techniques, static optimization (SO) and computed muscle control (CMC), are often used in OpenSim to estimate the muscle activations and forces responsible for movement. Although differences between SO and CMC muscle function have been reported, the accuracy of each technique and the combined effect of optimization and model choice on simulated muscle function is unclear. The purpose of this study was to quantitatively compare the SO and CMC estimates of muscle activations and forces during gait with the experimental data in the Gait2392 and Full Body Running models. In OpenSim (version 3.1), muscle function during gait was estimated using SO and CMC in 6 subjects in each model and validated against experimental muscle activations and joint torques. Experimental and simulated activation agreement was sensitive to optimization technique for the soleus and tibialis anterior. Knee extension torque error was greater with CMC than SO. Muscle forces, activations, and co-contraction indices tended to be higher with CMC and more sensitive to model choice. CMC’s inclusion of passive muscle forces, muscle activation-contraction dynamics, and a proportional-derivative controller to track kinematics contributes to these differences. Model and optimization technique choices should be validated using experimental activations collected simultaneously with the data used to generate the simulation.

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Robert J. Gregor

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Prasanna Sritharan, Luke G. Perraton, Mario A. Munoz, Peter Pivonka and Adam L. Bryant

This study compared lower-limb muscle function, defined as the contributions of muscles to center-of-mass support and braking, during a single-leg hopping task in anterior cruciate ligament-reconstructed (ACLR) individuals and uninjured controls. In total, 65 ACLR individuals and 32 controls underwent a standardized anticipated single-leg forward hop. Kinematics and ground reaction force data were input into musculoskeletal models to calculate muscle forces and to quantify muscle function by decomposing the vertical (support) and fore-aft (braking) ground reaction force components into contributions by individual lower-limb muscles. Four major muscles, the vasti, soleus, gluteus medius, and gluteus maximus, were primarily involved in support and braking in both ACLR and uninjured groups. However, although the ACLR group demonstrated lower peak forces for these muscles (all Ps < .001, except gluteus maximus, P = .767), magnitude differences in these muscles’ contributions to support and braking were not significant. ACLR individuals demonstrated higher erector spinae (P = .012) and hamstrings forces (P = .085) to maintain a straighter, stiffer landing posture with more forward lumbar flexion. This altered landing posture may have enabled the ACLR group to achieve similar muscle function to controls, despite muscle force deficits. Our findings may benefit rehabilitation and the development of interventions to enable faster and safer return to sport.

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Alison Schinkel-Ivy, Vicki Komisar and Carolyn A. Duncan

Investigating balance reactions following continuous, multidirectional, support surface perturbations is essential for improving our understanding of balance control in moving environments. Segmental motions are often incorporated into rapid balance reactions following external perturbations to balance, although the effects of these motions during complex, continuous perturbations have not been assessed. This study aimed to quantify the contributions of body segments (ie, trunk, head, upper extremity, and lower extremity) to the control of center-of-mass (COM) movement during continuous, multidirectional, support surface perturbations. Three-dimensional, whole-body kinematics were captured while 10 participants experienced 5 minutes of perturbations. Anteroposterior, mediolateral, and vertical COM position and velocity were calculated using a full-body model and 7 models with reduced numbers of segments, which were compared with the full-body model. With removal of body segments, errors relative to the full-body model increased, while relationship strength decreased. The inclusion of body segments appeared to affect COM measures, particularly COM velocity. Findings suggest that the body segments may provide a means of improving the control of COM motion, primarily its velocity, during continuous, multidirectional perturbations, and constitute a step toward improving our understanding of how the limbs contribute to balance control in moving environments.