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Christopher A. Zirker, Bradford C. Bennett and Mark F. Abel

We examined how the application of a forward horizontal force applied at the waist alters the metabolic cost, kinematics, and external work of gait. Horizontal assist forces of 4%, 8% and 12% of a subject’s body weight were applied via our testing apparatus while subjects walked at comfortable walking speed on a level treadmill. Kinematic and metabolic parameters were measured using motion capture and ergospirometry respectively on a group of 10 healthy male subjects. Changes in kinematic and metabolic parameters were quantified and found similar to walking downhill at varying grades. A horizontal assist force of 8% resulted in the greatest reduction of metabolic cost. Changes in recovery factor, external work, and center of mass (COM) movement did not correlate with changes in metabolic rate and therefore were not driving the observed reductions in cost. The assist force may have performed external work by providing propulsion as well as raising the COM as it pivots over the stance leg. Assist forces may decrease metabolic cost by reducing the concentric work required for propulsion while increasing the eccentric work of braking. These findings on the effects of assist forces suggest novel mobility aids for individuals with gait disorders and training strategies for athletes.

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Shawn Russell, Bradford Bennett, Pradip Sheth and Mark Abel

This paper describes a method to characterize gait pathologies like cerebral palsy using work, energy, and angular momentum. For a group of 24 children, 16 with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy and 8 typically developed, kinematic data were collected at the subjects self selected comfortable walking speed. From the kinematics, the work—internal, external, and whole body; energy—rotational and relative linear; and the angular momentum were calculated. Our findings suggest that internal work represents 53% and 40% respectively of the whole body work in gait for typically developed children and children with cerebral palsy. Analysis of the angular momentum of the whole body, and other subgroupings of body segments, revealed a relationship between increased angular momentum and increased internal work. This relationship allows one to use angular momentum to assist in determining the kinetics and kinematics of gait which contribute to increased internal work. Thus offering insight to interventions which can be applied to increase the efficiency of bipedal locomotion, by reducing internal work which has no direct contribution to center of mass motion, in both normal and pathologic populations.

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Liam P. Kilduff, Huw Bevan, Nick Owen, Mike I.C. Kingsley, Paul Bunce, Mark Bennett and Dan Cunningham

Purpose:

The ability to develop high levels of muscle power is considered an essential component of success in many sporting activities; however, the optimal load for the development of peak power during training remains controversial. The aim of the present study was to determine the optimal load required to observe peak power output (PPO) during the hang power clean in professional rugby players.

Methods:

Twelve professional rugby players performed hang power cleans on a portable force platform at loads of 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90% of their predetermined 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) in a randomized and balanced order.

Results:

Relative load had a significant effect on power output, with peak values being obtained at 80% of the subjects’ 1-RM (4466 ± 477 W; P < .001). There was no significant difference, however, between the power outputs at 50%, 60%, 70%, or 90% 1-RM compared with 80% 1-RM. Peak force was produced at 90% 1-RM with relative load having a significant effect on this variable; however, relative load had no effect on peak rate of force development or velocity during the hang power clean.

Conclusions:

The authors conclude that relative load has a significant effect on PPO during the hang power clean: Although PPO was obtained at 80% 1-RM, there was no significant difference between the loads ranging from 40% to 90% 1-RM. Individual determination of the optimal load for PPO is necessary in order to enhance individual training effects.