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Variability of Spatiotemporal Gait Kinematics During Treadmill Walking: Is There a Hawthorne Effect?

Saaniya Farhan, Marco A. Avalos, and Noah J. Rosenblatt

Spatiotemporal gait kinematics and their variability are commonly assessed in clinical and laboratory settings to quantify fall risk. Although the Hawthorne effect, or modifications in participant behavior due to knowledge of being observed, has the potential to impact such assessments, it has received minimal attention in the study of gait—particularly gait variability. The purpose of this study was to quantify the Hawthorne effect on variability and central tendency measures of fall-related spatiotemporal gait parameters. Seventeen healthy young adults walked on a treadmill at a self-selected velocity for 2 minutes under covert evaluation (ie, without awareness of being evaluated) and 2 minutes under overt evaluation. The movement was recorded using motion capture technology, from which we calculated mean value and step-to-step variability (using standard deviation and mean absolute deviation) of step length, step width, percent double support, percent stance phase, and stride time. Although central tendencies were unaffected by evaluation type, four-of-five measures of variability were significantly lower during overt evaluation for at least one-of-two metrics. Our results suggest a Hawthorne effect on locomotor control. Researchers should be aware of this phenomenon when designing research studies and interpreting gait assessments.

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Acute Cardiometabolic Responses to Three Modes of Treadmill Exercise in Older Adults With Parkinson’s Disease

Brandon R. Rigby, Ronald W. Davis, Marco A. Avalos, Nicholas A. Levine, Kevin A. Becker, and David L. Nichols

The purpose of this study was to compare acute cardiometabolic responses to 3 modes of treadmill exercise in adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Eight elderly adults with PD (67.9 ± 3.0 yr) completed 1 session each on a land, aquatic, and antigravity treadmill at 50% body weight. Participants walked from 1 to 3 mph in 0.5-mph increments at 0% grade for 5 min at each speed. Heart rate, energy expenditure, blood pressure, and rating of perceived exertion were measured at rest and during exercise. All variables except diastolic blood pressure increased with speed on all treadmills (p < .001). At all speeds except 1.5 mph, heart rate was higher on the land treadmill than the antigravity treadmill (p < .05). Exercising on an aquatic or antigravity treadmill elicits similar submaximal physiologic responses to exercise on a land treadmill in adults with PD.