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Dejan Tepavac and Edelle Carmen Field-Fote

The evaluation of a vector coding technique to quantify intersegmental coupling within a limb over multiple cycles of walking is described. The angular position of the knee with respect to the hip during walking was examined based on relative motion plots generated from videographic data. Participants included one able-bodied individual and one with spinal cord injury; the latter was assessed before and after participating in an assisted walking program. Vector coding of the frame-to-frame changes in hip/knee relationship was used to quantify the relative motion plots. Vector analysis techniques were then used to produce a single value that represents the overall variability of the hip/knee coupling relationship over multiple cycles. Hypothetical and random data were also used to evaluate the coding algorithm. In addition, the technique was compared to an earlier method in the analysis of this same data. Vector coding provided an easily interpretable method of quantifying the intersegmental coupling relationships and assessing the degree of consistency in the intralimb coordination over multiple cycles. The measure is sensitive to change in the kinematic variables and appears to have good validity. In addition, this technique has advantages over prior techniques as it allows simultaneous comparison of multiple cycles, calculations are performed quickly, and the algorithm is easy to program.

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Pedro Rodrigues, Ryan Chang, Trampas TenBroek, Richard van Emmerik and Joseph Hamill

Excessive pronation, because of its coupling with tibial internal rotation (TIR), has been implicated as a risk factor in the development of anterior knee pain (AKP). Traditionally, this coupling has been expressed as a ratio between the eversion range of motion and the TIR range of motion (Ev/TIR) that occurs during stance. Currently, this technique has not been used to evaluate specific injuries or the effects of sex. In addition, Ev/TIR is incapable of detecting coupling changes that occur throughout stance. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare the coupling between eversion and TIR in runners with (n = 19) and without AKP (n = 17) and across sex using the Ev/TIR ratio, and more continuously using vector coding. When using vector coding, significant coupling differences were noted in runners with AKP (34% to 38% stance), with runners with AKP showing relatively more TIR than eversion. Similarly significant differences were noted across sex (14%–25% and 36%–47% stance), with males transitioning from a loading to propulsive coordination pattern using a proximal to distal strategy, and female runners using a distal to proximal strategy. These differences were only detected when evaluating this coupling relationship using a continuous technique such as vector coding.

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Jongseong An, Gabriele Wulf and Seonjin Kim

We examined the effects of attentional focus instructions on the learning of movement form and carry distance in low-skilled golfers. The X-factor describes the rotation of the shoulders relative to the pelvis, and its increase during the downswing (so-called X-factor stretch) is associated with the carry distance of the ball. X-factor stretch and carry distance have been shown to be associated with an early weight shift toward the front leg during the downswing. In our study, one group (internal focus, IF) was instructed to focus on shifting their weight to their left foot while hitting the ball, whereas another group (external focus, EF) was instructed to focus on pushing against the left side of the ground. A control (C) group was not given attentional focus instructions. Participants performed 100 practice trials. Learning was assessed after a 3-day interval in a retention test without focus instructions. The EF group demonstrated a greater carry distance, X-factor stretch, and higher maximum angular velocities of the pelvis, shoulder, and wrist than both the IF and C groups, which showed very similar performances. These findings demonstrate that both movement outcome and form can be enhanced in complex skill learning by providing the learner with an appropriate external focus instruction. Moreover, they show that a single external focus cue can be sufficient to elicit an effective whole-body coordination pattern.

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Shannon D. Ringenbach and Dawn A. Lantero

This study examined the influences of intention on continuous bimanual circle drawing performed by adults with Down syndrome (DS) and mental age (MA) and chronological age (CA) matched comparison groups. The task was performed with preferred and instructed coordination patterns paced by a 500 ms metronome. While all participants adopted an in-phase coordination mode in the preferred conditions, only the adults with DS were unable to perform in-phase coordination when instructed to do so. We suggest that intention to perform specific coordination patterns taxes the attentional resources available, and mental age may be a precipitating factor to appropriate attention directing when performing multiple tasks. Results are discussed with respect to the developmental differences in attentional resources.

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Patrick J. DiRocco, Jane E. Clark and Sally J. Phillips

The purpose of the study was to determine if mildly mentally retarded (MMR) children followed the same developmental sequence of coordination for the propulsive phase of the standing long jump as their nonhandicapped (NH) peers. Subjects for the study included 39 MMR and 90 NH children, ages 4-7 years. Each subject was filmed performing several standing long jumps. Jumping patterns were analyzed from the film records, and distance jumped also was determined from the film. Results indicated that the arm and leg patterns of coordination proposed for NH children by Clark and Phillips (1985) were comprehensive enough to include the MMR children. In spite of similar patterns of coordination, the age group means for the distance jumped by the MMR subjects were 2 to 3 years behind their NH peers. Two explanations are offered for this deficit in distance jumped: first, there may be differences in coordination between the arm and leg action, and second, there may be differences in control mechanisms.

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Meltem Dizdar, Jale Fatma Irdesel, Oguzhan Sıtkı Dizdar and Mine Topsaç

general strength, and improving postural stability), walking, and particularly balance and coordination exercises are crucial in the prevention of falls ( Cambell et al., 1997 ; Covinsky et al., 2001 ). A large proportion of trials which seek to establish the specific effect of exercise on fall rates

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Richard E.A. van Emmerik and Erwin E.H. van Wegen

Current research in biology and physiology has unequivocally demonstrated the significance of variability for the optimal functioning of healthy and adaptable systems. Different pathologies are characterized by reductions in complexity of organization, often signified by loss of variability and adaptability. It is argued that the traditional perspective on biology in general and movement science in particular that tended to associate noise and variability with performance decrements and pathology is no longer tenable. Tools and methodologies that have emerged from the dynamical systems perspective to coordination and control are discussed in the context of postural control and transitions in interlimb coordination and locomotion. First, it is shown that variability can play a functional role in the detection and exploration of stability boundaries during balance control. Second, pattern transitions are characterized by increased variability in movement coordination dynamics. Under conditions of movement pathologies, such as in Parkinson’s disease, reductions in variability in coordination dynamics clearly identify movement coordination and transition problems so characteristic for these patients. It is concluded that the relation between variability and stability is complex and that variability cannot be equated with instability without knowledge of the underlying movement dynamics.

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Jae Kun Shim, Jeffrey Hsu, Sohit Karol and Ben F. Hurley

The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effects of finger strength training (ST) on finger strength, independence, force control, and adaptations in multifinger coordination. Thirty-three healthy, young (23.0 ± 2.9 years) subjects were randomly assigned into 4 groups. Group 1 (G1) trained all fingers together, Group 2 (G2) trained individual fingers without restricting movements of the non-training fingers, and Group 3 (G3) trained individual fingers while restricting the movement of the nontraining fingers. The control group (G0) did not undergo any training. A vertically hanging load was attached to a spring that passed through a pulley. The other end of the string extended to the horizontal plane and had thimbles attached to it. Subjects were asked to rest their forearm on the table and lift the load by inserting their fingers into the thimbles. The training protocol lasted 6 weeks. Identical experimental tests were conducted 4 times, biweekly, across the 6-week training. Force coordination and moment coordination, defined as synergies stabilizing the resultant force and the resultant moment of all finger forces, in a multifinger pressing task were quantified using the Uncontrolled Manifold (UCM) analysis. The UCM analysis allocates motor variability into two components, one in the null space of a motor task and the other perpendicular to the null space. During multifinger pressing tasks, multifinger coordination exists when the variability in the null space is greater than the variability in the subspace perpendicular to the null space. The multifinger coordination was quantified as the difference between the variance within the null space and that perpendicular to the null space, normalized by the total variance. Thus, the coordination measure in our analysis is a unitless variable. A greater coordination measure indicates better multifinger coordination. Moment-stabilizing multifinger coordination increased only in G1 (from 1.197 ± 0.004 to 1.323 ± 0.002, p < .01), and force-stabilizing coordination increased only in G3 (from 0.207 ± 0.106 to 0.727 ± 0.071, p < .01). Finger strength, measured by the maximal voluntary finger force of pressing 4 fingers, increased significantly in all training groups (from 103.7 ± 3.1 N to 144.0 ± 3.6 N for training groups, all p < .001). Finger-force errors, quantified by the deviations between the required force profiles (20% maximal voluntary force) presented to the subjects and the actual force produced, decreased significantly with ST for all the training groups (all p < .05). Finger independence also decreased significantly for all the training groups (p < .05). We conclude that the neuromuscular system adaptations to multifinger ST are specific to the training protocol being employed, yielding improvements in different types of multifinger coordination (i.e., coordination-specific ST), finger-force control, and finger strength and a decrease in finger independence. Finger independence, depending on the nature of the task, might or might not be favorable to certain task performances. We suggest that ST protocol should be carefully designed for the improvement of specific coordination of multieffector motor systems.

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Shannon D. Ringenbach, Romeo Chua, Brian K. V. Maraj, James C. Kao and Daniel J. Weeks

Previous experiments involving discrete unimanual tasks have shown that individuals with Down syndrome (DS) have auditory/verbal-motor deficits. The present study investigated unimanual and bimanual continuous perceptual-motor actions in adults with DS. Ten adults with DS, 10 typical adults, and 10 children drew continuous circles at increasing periods bimanually and unimanually with each hand. Movement was paced by either a visual or an auditory metronome. The results revealed that for circle shape and coordination measures, children and adults were more accurate with the visual metronome, whereas adults with DS were more accurate with the auditory metronome. In the unimanual tasks, adults with DS displayed hand asymmetries on spatial measures. In the bimanual task, however, adults with DS adopted an in-phase coordination pattern and stability more similar to adults than children. These results suggest that bimanual coordination in adults with DS is functioning effectively despite hand asymmetries evident in unimanual performance.

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Eric James, Charles S. Layne and Karl M. Newell

Studies of bimanual coordination have typically estimated the stability of coordination patterns through the use of the circular standard deviation of relative phase. The interpretation of this statistic depends upon the assumption of a von Mises distribution. The present study tested this assumption by examining the distributional properties of relative phase in three bimanual coordination patterns. There were significant deviations from the von Mises distribution due to differences in the kurtosis of distributions. The kurtosis depended upon the relative phase pattern performed, with leptokurtic distributions occurring in the in-phase and antiphase patterns and platykurtic distributions occurring in the 30° pattern. Thus, the distributional assumptions needed to validly and reliably use the standard deviation are not necessarily present in relative phase data though they are qualitatively consistent with the landscape properties of the intrinsic dynamics.