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Marcus J. Brown, Laura A. Hutchinson, Michael J. Rainbow, Kevin J. Deluzio and Alan R. De Asha

A typical gait analysis data collection consists of a series of discrete trials, where a participant initiates gait, walks through a motion capture volume, and then terminates gait. This is not a normal ‘everyday’ gait pattern, yet measurements are considered representative of normal walking. However, walking speed, a global descriptor of gait quality that can affect joint kinematics and kinetics, may be different during discrete trials, compared to continuous walking. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of continuous walking versus discrete trials on walking speed and walking speed variability. Data were collected for 25 healthy young adults performing 2 walking tasks. The first task represented a typical gait data collection session, where subjects completed repeated trials, beginning from a standstill and walking along a 12-m walkway. The second task was continuous walking along a “figure-of-8” circuit, with 1 section containing the same 12-m walkway. Walking speed was significantly higher during the discrete trials compared to the continuous trials (p < .001), but there were no significant differences in walking speed variability between the conditions. The results suggest that choice of gait protocol may affect results where variables are sensitive to walking speed.