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Hillary H. Holmes, Randall T. Fawcett, and Jaimie A. Roper

Walking is an integral indicator of human health commonly investigated while walking overground and with the use of a treadmill. Unlike fixed-speed treadmills, overground walking is dependent on the preferred walking speed under the individuals’ control. Thus, user-driven treadmills may have the ability to better simulate the characteristics of overground walking. This pilot study is the first investigation to compare a user-driven treadmill, a fixed-speed treadmill, and overground walking to understand differences in variability and mean spatiotemporal measures across walking environments. Participants walked fastest overground compared to both fixed and user-driven treadmill conditions. However, gait cycle speed variability in the fixed-speed treadmill condition was significantly lower than the user-driven and overground conditions, with no significant differences present between overground and user-driven treadmill walking. The lack of differences in variability between the user-driven treadmill and overground walking may indicate that the user-driven treadmill can better simulate the variability of overground walking, potentially leading to more natural adaptation and motor control patterns of walking.

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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).