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Nicholas D. Parr, Chris J. Hass and Mark D. Tillman

Cellular phone texting has become increasingly popular, raising the risk of distraction-related injuries. The purpose of this study was to compare alterations in gait parameters during normal gait as opposed to walking while texting. Thirty able-bodied young adults (age = 20 ± 2 y, height = 171 ± 40 cm, mass = 61.7 ± 11.2 kg) who reported texting on a regular basis were tested using an 11-camera optical motion capture system as they walked across an 8 m, obstacle-free floor. A reduction in velocity (P < .05) was seen along with additional significant changes in spatial and temporal parameters. Specifically, step width and double stance time increased, while toe clearance, step length, and cadence decreased. Although many of the changes in spatial and temporal parameters generally accompany slowed gait, the complex distraction task used here may have amplified these potentially deleterious effects. The combination of the slower gait velocity and decrease in attention to the surrounding environment suggests that an individual who is texting while walking could be at a greater risk of injury. Tripping injuries while texting could be more likely due to the decreased toe clearance. In addition, increased step width may increase the likelihood of stepping on an unstable surface or colliding with obstacles in close proximity.

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Srikant Vallabhajosula, Beverly L. Roberts and Chris J. Hass

Tai Chi intervention has been shown to be beneficial for balance improvement. The current study examined the effectiveness of Tai Chi to improve the dynamic postural control among older adults with mobility disability. Six sedentary older adults with mobility disability participated in a 16-week Tai Chi intervention consisting of one hour sessions three times a week. Dynamic postural control was assessed pre- and post intervention as participants initiated gait in four stepping conditions: forward; 45° medially, with the stepping leg crossing over the other leg; 45° and 90° laterally. The center of pressure (CoP) displacement, velocity, and its maximum separation distance from the center of mass in the anteroposterior, mediolateral, and resultant directions were analyzed. Results showed that in the postural phase, Tai Chi increased the CoP mediolateral excursions in the medial (13%) and forward (28%) conditions, and resultant CoP center of mass distance in the medial (9%) and forward (19%) conditions. In the locomotion phase, the CoP mediolateral displacement and velocity significantly increased after the Tai Chi intervention (both by > 100% in the two lateral conditions). These results suggest that through alteration in CoP movement characteristics, Tai Chi intervention might improve the dynamic postural control during gait initiation among older adults.

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Jaimie A. Roper, Ryan T. Roemmich, Mark D. Tillman, Matthew J. Terza and Chris J. Hass

Interventions that manipulate gait speed may also affect the control of frontal plane mechanics. Expanding the current knowledge of frontal plane adaptations during split-belt treadmill walking could advance our understanding of the influence of asymmetries in gait speed on frontal plane mechanics and provide insight into the breadth of adaptations required by split-belt walking (SBW). Thirteen young, healthy participants, free from lower extremity injury walked on a split-belt treadmill with belts moving simultaneously at different speeds. We examined frontal plane mechanics of the ankle, knee, and hip joints during SBW, as well as medio-lateral ground reaction forces (ML-GRF). We did not observe alterations in the frontal mechanics produced during early or late adaptation of SBW when compared to conditions where the belts moved together. We did observe that ML-GRF and hip moment impulse of the fast limb increased over time with adaptation to SBW. These results suggest this modality may provide a unique therapy for individuals with gait pathologies, impairments, or compensation(s).

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Bradley Fawver, Garrett F. Beatty, Kelly M. Naugle, Chris J. Hass and Christopher M. Janelle

Emotional states influence whole-body movements during quiet standing, gait initiation, and steady state gait. A notable gap exists, however, in understanding how emotions affect postural changes during the period preceding the execution of planned whole-body movements. The impact of emotion-induced postural reactions on forthcoming posturomotor movements remains unknown. We sought to determine the influence of emotional reactions on center of pressure (COP) displacement before the initiation of forward gait. Participants (N = 23, 14 females) stood on a force plate and initiated forward gait at the offset of an emotional image (representing five discrete categories: attack, sad faces, erotica, happy faces, and neutral objects). COP displacement in the anteroposterior direction was quantified for a 2 second period during image presentation. Following picture onset, participants produced a posterior postural response to all image types. The greatest posterior displacement was occasioned in response to attack or threat stimuli compared with happy faces and erotica images. Results suggest the impact of emotional states on gait behavior begins during the motor planning period before the preparatory phase of gait initiation, and manifests in center of pressure displacement alterations.

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Mark D. Tillman, Chris J. Hass, John W. Chow and Denis Brunt

During ballistic locomotion and landing activities, the lower extremity joints must function synchronously to dissipate the impact. The coupling of subtalar motion to tibial and knee rotation has been hypothesized to depend on the dynamic requirements of the task. This study was undertaken to look for differences in the coupling of 3-D foot and knee motions during walking, jogging, and landing from a jump. Twenty recreationally active young women with normal foot alignment (as assessed by a licensed physical therapist) were videotaped with high-speed cameras (250 Hz) during walking, jogging, hopping, and jumping trials. Coupling coefficients were compared among the four activities. The ratio of eversion to tibial rotation increased from the locomotion to the landing trials, indicating that with the increased loading demands of the activity, the requirements of foot motion increased. However, this increased motion was not proportionately translated into rotation of the tibia through the subtalar joint. Furthermore, the ratio of knee flexion to knee internal rotation increased significantly from the walking to landing trials. Together these findings suggest that femoral rotation may compensate for the increase in tibial rotation as the force-dissipating demands of the task increase. The relative unbalance among the magnitude of foot, tibial, and knee rotations observed with increasing task demands may have direct implications on clinical treatments aimed at reducing knee motion via controlling motion at the foot during landing tasks.

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Mark D. Tillman, Rachel M. Criss, Denis Brunt and Chris J. Hass

The purposes of this study were to analyze double-limb, dominant-limb, and nondominant-limb landings, each with a two-footed takeoff, in order to detect potential differences in muscle activity and ground reaction forces and to examine the possible influence of leg dominance on these parameters. Each of the three jump landing combinations was analyzed in 11 healthy female volleyball players (age 21 ± 3 yrs; height 171 ± 5 cm, mass 61.6 ± 5.5 kg, max. vertical jump height 28 ± 4 cm). Ground reaction forces under each limb and bilateral muscle activity of the vastus medialis, hamstrings, and lateral gastrocnemius muscles were synchronized and collected at 1,000 Hz. Normalized EMG amplitude and force platform data were averaged over five trials for each participant and analyzed using repeated-measures ANOVA. During the takeoff phase in jumps with one-footed landings, the non-landing limb loaded more than the landing limb (p = 0.003). During the 100 ms prior to initial contact, single-footed landings generated higher EMG values than two-footed landings (p = 0.004). One-footed landings resulted in higher peak vertical loading, lateral loading, and rate of lateral loading than two-footed landings (p < 0.05). Trends were observed indicating that muscle activation during one-footed landings is greater than for two-footed landings (p = 0.053 vs. p = 0.077). The greater forces and rate of loading produced during single-limb landings implies a higher predisposition to injury. It appears that strategic planning and training of jumps in volleyball and other jumping sports is critical.

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Ferdous Wahid, Rezaul Begg, Noel Lythgo, Chris J. Hass, Saman Halgamuge and David C. Ackland

Normalization of gait data is performed to reduce the effects of intersubject variations due to physical characteristics. This study reports a multiple regression normalization approach for spatiotemporal gait data that takes into account intersubject variations in self-selected walking speed and physical properties including age, height, body mass, and sex. Spatiotemporal gait data including stride length, cadence, stance time, double support time, and stride time were obtained from healthy subjects including 782 children, 71 adults, 29 elderly subjects, and 28 elderly Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. Data were normalized using standard dimensionless equations, a detrending method, and a multiple regression approach. After normalization using dimensionless equations and the detrending method, weak to moderate correlations between walking speed, physical properties, and spatiotemporal gait features were observed (0.01 < |r| < 0.88), whereas normalization using the multiple regression method reduced these correlations to weak values (|r| < 0.29). Data normalization using dimensionless equations and detrending resulted in significant differences in stride length and double support time of PD patients; however the multiple regression approach revealed significant differences in these features as well as in cadence, stance time, and stride time. The proposed multiple regression normalization may be useful in machine learning, gait classification, and clinical evaluation of pathological gait patterns.

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Joe R. Nocera, Keith M. McGregor, Chris J. Hass and Bruce Crosson

Studies suggest improvements of neurocognitive function among older adults who undergo aerobic exercise training. This study sought to examine the impact of an aerobic exercise intervention on verbal fluency in sedentary older adults. Twenty community-dwelling older adults were recruited and enrolled in either a spin exercise group or a control condition. Participants were evaluated with an estimated V02max test and on measures of letter, category, and switching verbal fluency both before and after a 12-week intervention period. Spin exercise resulted in a significant improvement in category (semantic) verbal fluency when compared with the control group (15% vs. 2% increase, respectively; P = .001). Spin exercise also resulted in a significant improvement in estimated V02max (P = .005). Also important, the spin exercise group demonstrated a high level of adherence (mean adherence = 82.5%). Spin exercise can be an effective mode of aerobic exercise to improve semantic fluency in previously sedentary older adults.

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Erik A. Wikstrom, Kyeongtak Song, Kimmery Migel and Chris J. Hass

Aberrant loading is a mechanism by which individuals with chronic ankle instability (CAI) may negatively impact cartilage health and therefore long-term health outcomes. We aimed to quantify walking vertical ground reaction force (vGRF) component differences between those with and without CAI. Participants (n = 36) walked barefoot overground at a self-selected comfortable pace. Normalized peak vGRF, time to peak vGRF, and normalized loading rate were calculated. Higher normalized loading rates (CAI: 5.69 ± 0.62 N/BW/s; controls: 5.30 ± 0.44 N/BW/s, p = .034) and less time to peak vGRF (CAI: 1.48 ± 0.18 s; controls: 1.62 ± 0.16 s, p = .018) were observed in those with CAI. In conclusion, those with CAI demonstrate a higher normalized loading rate and less time to peak vGRF compared to controls.

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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.