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  • Author: Caroline J. Ketcham x
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Caroline J. Ketcham, Natalia V. Dounskaia and George E. Stelmach

The present study investigates whether regulation of interactive torque during multijoint movements decays with advanced age as a result of declines in the motor system. Young and elderly adults repeatedly drew a circle and ovals oriented in different directions using shoulder and elbow joint movements. Each template was traced at three levels of cycling frequency with and without vision. Although vision did not affect performance, increases in cycling frequency caused distortions of movement trajectories in both groups. The pattern of distortions differed, however, between the groups. These differences were accounted for by differences in elbow control. Young adults provided regulation of elbow amplitude and timing by matching muscle torque magnitude with increased interactive torque. In contrast, elderly adults did not increase muscle torque magnitude and modulated torque timing for elbow motion regulation. This strategy is discussed as adaptation to decrements in the aging motor system.

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Natalia V. Dounskaia, Caroline J. Ketcham and George E. Stelmach

Influence of mechanical interactions between the shoulder and elbow on production of different coordination patterns during horizontal arm movements is investigated in the present study. Subjects performed cyclical movements along a circle and along lines of 4 different orientations. Cycling frequency was manipulated to highlight control features responsible for interactive torque regulation. When the shoulder was involved in motion, torque analysis revealed that this joint was controlled similarly during all movement types. At the elbow, however, each movement type required a specific pattern of regulation of interactive torque with muscle torque. When interactive torque acted in the direction of the required elbow rotation, the demands for active control were lower than when the interactive torque resisted elbow motion and had to be actively suppressed. Kinematic analysis demonstrated that increases in cycling frequency systematically deformed the fingertip path. The amount of these deformations differed across movement types, being more pronounced for movements where the interactive torque resisted joint motion. It appears that interactive torque can assist or resist movement at the joints, making control of some movement types more difficult than others.

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Lauren A. Brown, Eric E. Hall, Caroline J. Ketcham, Kirtida Patel, Thomas A. Buckley, David R. Howell and Srikant Vallabhajosula

Context: Sports often involve complex movement patterns, such as turning. Although cognitive load effects on gait patterns are well known, little is known on how it affects biomechanics of turning gait among athletes. Such information could help evaluate how concussion affects turning gait required for daily living and sports. Objective: To determine the effect of a dual task on biomechanics of turning while walking among college athletes. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: University laboratory. Participants: Fifty-three participants performed 5 trials of a 20-m walk under single- and dual-task conditions at self-selected speed with a 180° turn at 10-m mark. The cognitive load included subtraction, spelling words backward, or reciting the months backward. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Turn duration, turning velocity, number of steps, SD of turn duration and velocity, and coefficient of variation of turn duration and velocity. Results: Participants turned significantly slower (155.99 [3.71] cm/s vs 183.52 [4.17] cm/s; P < .001) and took longer time to complete the turn (2.63 [0.05] s vs 2.33 [0.04] s; P < .001) while dual tasking, albeit taking similar number of steps to complete the turn. Participants also showed more variability in turning time under the dual-task condition (SD of turn duration = 0.39 vs 0.31 s; P = .004). Conclusions: Overall, college athletes turned slower and showed more variability during turning gait while performing a concurrent cognitive dual-task turning compared with single-task turning. The slower velocity increased variability may be representative of specific strategy of turning gait while dual tasking, which may be a result of the split attention to perform the cognitive task. The current study provides descriptive values of absolute and variability turning gait parameters for sports medicine personnel to use while they perform their concussion assessments on their college athletes.

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David R. Howell, Jessie R. Oldham, Melissa DiFabio, Srikant Vallabhajosula, Eric E. Hall, Caroline J. Ketcham, William P. Meehan III and Thomas A. Buckley

Gait impairments have been documented following sport-related concussion. Whether preexisting gait pattern differences exist among athletes who participate in different sport classifications, however, remains unclear. Dual-task gait examinations probe the simultaneous performance of everyday tasks (ie, walking and thinking), and can quantify gait performance using inertial sensors. The purpose of this study was to compare the single-task and dual-task gait performance of collision/contact and noncontact athletes. A group of collegiate athletes (n = 265) were tested before their season at 3 institutions (mean age= 19.1 ± 1.1 years). All participants stood still (single-task standing) and walked while simultaneously completing a cognitive test (dual-task gait), and completed walking trials without the cognitive test (single-task gait). Spatial-temporal gait parameters were compared between collision/contact and noncontact athletes using MANCOVAs; cognitive task performance was compared using ANCOVAs. No significant single-task or dual-task gait differences were found between collision/contact and noncontact athletes. Noncontact athletes demonstrated higher cognitive task accuracy during single-task standing (P = .001) and dual-task gait conditions (P = .02) than collision/contact athletes. These data demonstrate the utility of a dual-task gait assessment outside of a laboratory and suggest that preinjury cognitive task performance during dual-tasks may differ between athletes of different sport classifications.