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Heydar Sadeghi, Francois Prince, Karl F. Zabjek and Paul Allard

In this study, tasks of the hip in elderly and young gait were identified using principal-component analysis (PCA). Discrepancies between older and younger participants for hip-flexor and -extensor action during stance were also investigated. PCA was applied to the sagittal-hip-muscle-power curves of participants. Three principal components (PCs) were retained for further analysis. A t test revealed that all measures of gait spatiotemporal parameters were significantly lower in the older participants (p < .05). The first PC for both groups extracted the largest variation and described hip-power action during midistance. The second and third PCs in the older participants highlighted the role of the hip extensors and flexors during weight acceptance, late stance, and pull-off. The corresponding PCs for the younger participants were mainly associated with hip-extensor/flexor action during pull-off and weight acceptance. The results indicate that the hip-extensor/flexor muscles are mainly responsible for balance control in elderly gait but contribute to both balance control and propulsion in the gait of younger individuals.

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Denine Ellis, Ervin Sejdic, Karl Zabjek and Tom Chau

The strength of time-dependent correlations known as stride interval (SI) dynamics has been proposed as an indicator of neurologically healthy gait. Most recently, it has been hypothesized that these dynamics may be necessary for gait efficiency although the supporting evidence to date is scant. The current study examines over-ground SI dynamics, and their relationship with the cost of walking and physical activity levels in neurologically healthy children aged nine to 15 years. Twenty participants completed a single experimental session consisting of three phases: 10 min resting, 15 min walking and 10 min recovery. The scaling exponent (α) was used to characterize SI dynamics while net energy cost was measured using a portable metabolic cart, and physical activity levels were determined based on a 7-day recall questionnaire. No significant linear relationships were found between a and the net energy cost measures (r < .07; p > .25) or between α and physical activity levels (r = .01, p = .62). However, there was a marked reduction in the variance of α as activity levels increased. Over-ground stride dynamics do not appear to directly reflect energy conservation of gait in neurologically healthy youth. However, the reduction in the variance of α with increasing physical activity suggests a potential exercise-moderated convergence toward a level of stride interval persistence for able-bodied youth reported in the literature. This latter finding warrants further investigation.

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Julie Vaughan-Graham, Kara Patterson, Karl Zabjek and Cheryl A. Cott

Human movement is complex, presenting clinical and research challenges regarding how it is described and investigated. This paper discusses the commonalities and differences on how human movement is conceptualized from neuroscientific and clinical perspectives with respect to postural control; the limitations of linear measures; movement efficiency with respect to metabolic energy cost and selectivity; and, how muscle synergy analysis may contribute to our understanding of movement variability. We highlight the role of sensory information on motor performance with respect to the base of support and alignment, illustrating a potential disconnect between the clinical and neuroscientific perspectives. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the commonalities and differences in how movement concepts are defined and operationalized by Bobath clinicians and the neuroscientific community to facilitate a common understanding and open the dialogue on the research practice gap.

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Neelesh K. Nadkarni, Karl Zabjek, Betty Lee, William E. McIlroy and Sandra E. Black

Changes in gait parameters induced by the concomitant performance of one of two cognitive tasks activating working memory and spatial attention, was examined in healthy young adults (YA) and older adults (OA). There was a main effect of task condition on gait-speed (p = .02), stride-length (p < .001) and double-support time (p = .04) independent of the group. There were no significant differences between working memory and spatial attention associated gait changes. Working-memory and spatial-attention dual-tasking led to a decrease in gait-speed (p = .09 and 0.01) and stride-length (p = .04 and 0.01) and increase in double-support time (p = .01 and 0.03) in YA and decrease in stride-length (p = .04 and 0.01) alone in OA. Cognitive task associated changes in gait may be a function of limited attentional resources irrespective of the type of cognitive task.

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Matthew J. Leineweber, Dominik Wyss, Sophie-Krystale Dufour, Claire Gane, Karl Zabjek, Laurent J. Bouyer, Désirée B. Maltais, Julien I.A. Voisin and Jan Andrysek

This study evaluated the effects of intense physical exercise on postural stability of children with cerebral palsy (CP). Center of pressure (CoP) was measured in 9 typically developing (TD) children and 8 with CP before and after a maximal aerobic shuttle-run test (SRT) using a single force plate. Anteroposterior and mediolateral sway velocities, sway area, and sway regularity were calculated from the CoP data and compared between pre- and postexercise levels and between groups. Children with CP demonstrated significantly higher pre-SRT CoP velocities than TD children in the sagittal (18.6 ± 7.6 vs. 6.75 1.78 m/s) and frontal planes (15.4 ± 5.3 vs. 8.04 ± 1.51 m/s). Post-SRT, CoP velocities significantly increased for children with CP in the sagittal plane (27.0 ± 1.2 m/s), with near-significant increases in the frontal plane (25.0 ± 1.5m/s). Similarly, children with CP evidenced larger sway areas than the TD children both pre- and postexercise. The diminished postural stability in children with CP after short but intense physical exercise may have important implications including increased risk of falls and injury.

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Désirée B. Maltais, Claire Gane, Sophie-Krystale Dufour, Dominik Wyss, Laurent J. Bouyer, Bradford J. McFadyen, Karl Zabjek, Jan Andrysek and Julien I.A. Voisin

Little is known about the effects of acute exercise on the cognitive functioning of children with cerebral palsy (CP). Selected cognitive functions were thus measured using a pediatric version of the Stroop test before and after maximal, locomotor based aerobic exercise in 16 independently ambulatory children (8 children with CP), 6–15 years old. Intense exercise had: 1) a significant, large, positive effect on reaction time (RT) for the CP group (preexercise: 892 ± 56.5 ms vs. postexercise: 798 ± 45.6 ms, p < .002, d = 1.87) with a trend for a similar but smaller response for the typically developing (TD) group (preexercise: 855 ± 56.5 ms vs. postexercise: 822 ± 45.6 ms, p < .08, d = 0.59), and 2) a significant, medium, negative effect on the interference effect for the CP group (preexercise: 4.5 ± 2.5%RT vs. postexercise: 13 ± 2.9%RT, p < .04, d = 0.77) with no significant effect for the TD group (preexercise: 7.2 ± 2.5%RT vs. postexercise: 6.9 ± 2.9%RT, p > .4, d = 0.03). Response accuracy was high in both groups pre- and postexercise (>96%). In conclusion, intense exercise impacts cognitive functioning in children with CP, both by increasing processing speed and decreasing executive function.