Different forms of locomotion have been studied in the cat in an effort to understand the neural mechanisms involved in movement control. Recent studies have focused on the roles of one- and two-joint muscles, the integration of central commands with sensory input, and the notion that the control system may be organized around the mechanical actions of muscles and the number of joints they span. To investigate the load-sharing between the two-joint medial gastrocnemius and one-joint soleus muscles, a single cat was trained to walk in an instrumented Plexiglas enclosed walkway at slopes ranging ±75%. Surgically implanted tendon force transducers monitored force output from each muscle. Equations in Newtonian mechanics were used to calculate joint kinetics. Results suggest that as slope angle decreased, the one-joint soleus became the primary contributor to the plantar-flexor moment calculated during stance. Unexpectedly, as slope angle increased, force in the one-joint soleus decreased while force in the two-joint medial gastrocnemius increased in the presence of the increased plantar-flexor moment calculated during stance. One explanation is that activation and force in the two-joint medial gastrocnemius should increase in the presence of a knee flexor and plantar-flexor moment. This was the case during upslope walking, as two-joint muscles increase their activation when they act as an agonist at both joints they cross. Additionally, a force-dependent inhibition of the soleus by the medial gastrocnemius has been described as part of a neural control system organized around the mechanical actions of muscles and the number of joints they span. Hence, a decrease in one-joint soleus force might be expected under certain conditions in upslope walking.
Robert J. Gregor, Judith L. Smith, Dagan W. Smith, Alanna Oliver and Boris I. Prilutsky
Daniel J. Daly, Laurie A. Malone, David J. Smith, Yves Vanlandewijck and Robert D. Steadward
A video race analysis was conducted at the Atlanta Paralympic Games swimming competition. The purpose was to describe the contribution of clean swimming speed, as well as start, turn, and finish speed, to the total race performance in the four strokes for the men’s 100 m events. Start, turn, and finish times, as well as clean swimming speed during four race sections, were measured on videotapes during the preliminary heats (329 swims). Information on 1996 Olympic Games finalists (N = 16) was also available. In Paralympic swimmers, next to clean swimming speed, both turning and finishing were highly correlated with the end race result. Paralympic swimmers do start, turn, and finish slower than Olympic swimmers but in direct relation to their slower clean swimming speed. The race pattern of these components is not different between Paralympic and Olympic swimmers.
Andrea N. Lay, Chris J. Hass, D. Webb Smith and Robert J. Gregor
Sloped walking surfaces provide a unique environment for examining the bio-mechanics and neural control of locomotion. While sloped surfaces have been used in a variety of studies in recent years, the current literature provides little if any discussion of the integrity, i.e., validity, of the systems used to collect data. The goal of this study was to develop and characterize a testing system capable of evaluating the kinetics of human locomotion on sloped surfaces. A ramped walkway system with an embedded force plate was constructed and stabilized. Center of pressure and reaction force data from the force plate were evaluated at 6 ramp grades (0, 5, 15, 25, 35, and 39%). Ground reaction force data at 0% grade were effectively the same as data from the same force plate when mounted in the ground and were well within the range of intrasubject variability. Collectively, data from all tests demonstrate the fidelity of this ramp system and suggest it can be used to evaluate human locomotion over a range of slope intensities.