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Stephen C. Cobb, Mukta N. Joshi and Robin L. Pomeroy

In-vitro and invasive in-vivo studies have reported relatively independent motion in the medial and lateral forefoot segments during gait. However, most current surface-based models have not defined medial and lateral forefoot or midfoot segments. The purpose of the current study was to determine the reliability of a 7-segment foot model that includes medial and lateral midfoot and forefoot segments during walking gait. Three-dimensional positions of marker clusters located on the leg and 6 foot segments were tracked as 10 participants completed 5 walking trials. To examine the reliability of the foot model, coefficients of multiple correlation (CMC) were calculated across the trials for each participant. Three-dimensional stance time series and range of motion (ROM) during stance were also calculated for each functional articulation. CMCs for all of the functional articulations were ≥ 0.80. Overall, the rearfoot complex (leg–calcaneus segments) was the most reliable articulation and the medial midfoot complex (calcaneus–navicular segments) was the least reliable. With respect to ROM, reliability was greatest for plantarflexion/dorsiflexion and least for abduction/adduction. Further, the stance ROM and time-series patterns results between the current study and previous invasive in-vivo studies that have assessed actual bone motion were generally consistent.

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Emily E. Gerstle, Kristian O’Connor, Kevin G. Keenan and Stephen C. Cobb

In the general population, one-third of incidences during step negotiation occur during the transition to level walking. Furthermore, falls during curb negotiation are a common cause of injury in older adults. Distal foot kinematics may be an important factor in determining injury risk associated with transition step negotiation. The purpose of this study was to identify foot and ankle kinematics of uninjured individuals during descent from varying step heights. A 7-segment foot model was used to quantify kinematics as participants walked on a level walkway, stepped down a single step (heights: 5 cm, 15 cm, 25 cm), and continued walking. As step height increased, landing strategy transitioned from the rearfoot to the forefoot, and the rearfoot, lateral and medial midfoot, and medial forefoot became more plantar flexed. During weight acceptance, sagittal plane range of motion of the rearfoot, lateral midfoot, and medial and lateral forefoot increased as step height increased. The changes in landing strategy and distal foot function suggest a less stable ankle position at initial contact and increased demand on the distal foot at initial contact and through the weight acceptance phase of transition step negotiation as step height increases.

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Stephen C. Cobb, Mukta N. Joshi, David M. Bazett-Jones and Jennifer E. Earl-Boehm

The effect of time-to-boundary minima selection and stability limit definition was investigated during eyes open and eyes closed condition single-limb stance postural stability. Anteroposterior and mediolateral time-to-boundary were computed using the mean and standard deviation (SD) of all time-to-boundary minima during a trial, and the mean and SD of only the 10 absolute time-to-boundary minima. Time-to-boundary with rectangular, trapezoidal, and multisegmented polygon defined stability limits were also calculated. Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient test results revealed significant medium-large correlations between anteroposterior and mediolateral time-to-boundary scores calculated using both the mean and SD of the 10 absolute time-to-boundary minima and of all the time-to-boundary minima. Friedman test results revealed significant mediolateral time-to-boundary differences between boundary shape definitions. Follow-up Wilcoxon signed rank test results revealed significant differences between the rectangular boundary shape and both the trapezoidal and multisegmented polygon shapes during the eyes open and eyes closed conditions when both the mean and the SD of the time-to-boundary minima were used to represent postural stability. Significant differences were also revealed between the trapezoidal and multisegmented polygon definitions during the eyes open condition when the SD of the time-to-boundary minima was used to represent postural stability. Based on these findings, the overall results (i.e., stable versus unstable participants or groups) of studies computing postural stability using different minima selection can be compared. With respect to boundary shape, the trapezoid or multisegmented polygon shapes may be more appropriate than the rectangular shape as they more closely represent the anatomical shape of the stance foot.

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Lauren C. Benson, Stephen C. Cobb, Allison S. Hyngstrom, Kevin G. Keenan, Jake Luo and Kristian M. O’Connor

Low foot clearance and high variability may be related to falls risk. Foot clearance is often defined as the local minimum in toe height during swing; however, not all strides have this local minimum. The primary purpose of this study was to identify a nondiscrete measure of foot clearance during all strides, and compare discrete and nondiscrete measures in ability to rank individuals on foot clearance and variability. Thirty-five participants (young adults [n = 10], older fallers [n = 10], older nonfallers [n = 10], and stroke survivors [n = 5]) walked overground while lower extremity 3D kinematics were recorded. Principal components analysis (PCA) of the toe height waveform yielded representation of toe height when it was closest to the ground. Spearman’s rank order correlation assessed the association of foot clearance and variability between PCA and discrete variables, including the local minimum. PCA had significant (P < .05) moderate or strong associations with discrete measures of foot clearance and variability. An approximation of the discrete local minimum had a weak association with PCA and other discrete measures of foot clearance. A PCA approach to quantifying foot clearance can be used to identify the behavioral components of toe height when it is closest to the ground, even for strides without a local minimum.