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Jaimie A. Roper, Ryan T. Roemmich, Mark D. Tillman, Matthew J. Terza and Chris J. Hass

may thus also affect the control of frontal plane motion. 7 However, it is unknown how frontal plane gait mechanics change when the speeds of each leg are manipulated independently rather than simultaneously. Split-belt treadmill walking is a rehabilitation intervention that allows researchers to

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William A. Sparrow, Rezaul K. Begg and Suzanne Parker

Visual reaction time (RT) was measured in 10 older men (mean age, 71.1 years) and gender-matched controls (mean age, 26.3 years) when standing (single task) and when walking on a motor-driven treadmill (dual task). There were 90 quasirandomly presented trials over 15 min in each condition. Longer mean and median RTs were observed in the dual task compared to the single task. Older males had significantly slower mean and median RTs (315 and 304 ms, respectively) than the younger group (273 and 266 ms, respectively) in both task conditions. There were no age or condition effects on within-subject variability. Both groups showed a trend of increasing RT over the 90 single task trials but when walking only the younger group slowed. These novel findings demonstrate high but sustained attention by older adults when walking. It is proposed that the motor task’s attentional demands might contribute to their slower preferred walking speed.

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Christopher K. Rhea and Matthew W. Wittstein

Much has been learned about the characteristics of gait in overground and treadmill walking. However, there are many contexts in which overground or treadmill walking might not be possible, such as in home-based physical therapy. In those cases, a surrogate task to index gait behavior would be a valuable tool. Thus, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the stride behavior characteristics of stationary stepping compared with treadmill walking. Healthy young adults (N = 10) preformed two 15-minute tasks: (1) treadmill walking and (2) stationary stepping. Several stride behavior characteristics were recorded, including the number of strides taken, minimum and maximum knee angle, stride interval mean, stride interval standard deviation, and detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA) alpha of the stride interval time series. The results showed that stride behavior was similar between tasks when examined at the group level. However, when individual level analyses were used to examine the reliability of each metric between tasks, poor reliability was observed in most metrics, indicating that stationary stepping may not be an appropriate surrogate task for overground or treadmill walking. These results are discussed in the context of a gait dynamics framework, with attention to task constraints that may have influenced the findings.

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Eadric Bressel, Gerald Smith, Andrew Miller and Dennis Dolny

Context: Quantification of the magnitudes of fluid resistance provided by water jets (currents) and their effect on energy expenditure during aquatic-treadmill walking is lacking in the scientific literature. Objective: To quantify the effect of water-jet intensity on jet velocity, drag force, and oxygen uptake (VO2) during aquatic-treadmill walking. Design: Descriptive and repeated measures. Setting: Athletic training facility. Participants, Interventions, and Measures: Water-jet velocities were measured using an electromagnetic flow meter at 9 different jet intensities (0-80% maximum). Drag forces on 3 healthy subjects with a range of frontal areas (600, 880, and 1250 cm2) were measured at each jet intensity with a force transducer and line attached to the subject, who was suspended in water. Five healthy participants (age 37.2 ± 11.3 y, weight 611 ± 96 N) subsequently walked (~1.03 m/s or 2.3 miles/h) on an aquatic treadmill at the 9 different jet intensities while expired gases were collected to estimate VO2. Results: For the range of jet intensities, water-jet velocities and drag forces were 0-1.2 m/s and 0-47 N, respectively. VO2 increased nonlinearly, with values ranging from 11.4 ± 1.0 to 22.2 ± 3.8 mL × kg-1 × min-1 for 0-80% of jet maximum, respectively. Conclusions: This study presented methodology for quantifying water-jet flow velocities and drag forces in an aquatic-treadmill environment and examined how different jet intensities influenced VO2 during walking. Quantification of these variables provides a fundamental understanding of aquatic-jet use and its effect on VO2. In practice, these results indicate that VO2 may be substantially increased on an aquatic treadmill while maintaining a relatively slow walking speed.

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Noah J. Rosenblatt, Christopher P. Hurt and Mark D. Grabiner

Recent experimental findings support theoretical predictions that across walking conditions the motor system chooses foot placement to achieve a constant minimum “margin of stability” (MOSmin)—distance between the extrapolated center of mass and base of support. For example, while step width varies, similar average MOSmin exists between overground and treadmill walking and between overground and compliant/irregular surface walking. However, predictions regarding the invariance of MOSmin to step-by-step changes in foot placement cannot be verified by average values. The purpose of this study was to determine average changes in, and the sensitivity of MOSmin to varying step widths during two walking tasks. Eight young subjects walked on a dual-belt treadmill before and after receiving information that stepping on the physical gap between the belts causes no adverse effects. Information decreased step width by 17% (p = .01), whereas MOSmin was unaffected (p = .12). Regardless of information, subject-specific regressions between step-by-step values of step width and MOSmin explained, on average, only 5% of the shared variance (β = 0.11 ± 0.05). Thus, MOSmin appears to be insensitive to changing step width. Accordingly, during treadmill walking, step width is chosen to maintain MOSmin. If MOSmin remains insensitive to step width across other dynamic tasks, then assessing an individual’s stability while performing theses tasks could help describe the health of the motor system.

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Daniel E. Lidstone, Justin A. Stewart, Reed Gurchiek, Alan R. Needle, Herman van Werkhoven and Jeffrey M. McBride

e3182456057 11. Blacker SD , Fallowfield JL , Bilzon JL , Willems ME . Physiological responses to load carriage during level and downhill treadmill walking . Medicina Sportiva . 2009 ; 13 ( 2 ): 116 – 124 . 10.2478/v10036-009-0018-1 10.2478/v10036-009-0018-1 12. Grenier JG , Millet

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Christopher A. Miller, Alan H. Feiveson and Jacob J. Bloomberg

Gait kinematics have been shown to vary with speed and visual-target fixation distance, but their combined effects on toe trajectory during treadmill walking are not known. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the role of walking speed and target distance on vertical toe trajectory during treadmill walking. Subjects walked on a treadmill at five speeds while performing a dynamic visual-acuity task at both “far” and “near” target distances (ten trials total). The analysis concentrated on three specific toe trajectory events during swing: the first peak toe height just after toe-off; the minimum toe height (toe clearance), and the second peak toe height just before heel strike. With increasing speed, toe clearance decreased and the peak toe height just before heel strike increased. Only the peak toe height just after toe-off was significantly changed between the near-target and far-target tasks, though the difference was small. Therefore, walking speed and visual-fixation distance cannot be neglected in the analysis of toe trajectory. Otherwise, differences observed between populations may be attributed to age- or clinically related factors, instead of disparities of speed or target-fixation distance.

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Hanatsu Nagano, Rezaul K. Begg, William A. Sparrow and Simon Taylor

Although lower limb strength becomes asymmetrical with age, past studies of aging effects on gait biomechanics have usually analyzed only one limb. This experiment measured how aging and treadmill surface influenced both dominant and nondominant step parameters in older (mean 74.0 y) and young participants (mean 21.9 y). Step-cycle parameters were obtained from 3-dimensional position/time data during preferred-speed walking for 40 trials along a 10 m walkway and for 10 minutes of treadmill walking. Walking speed (young 1.23 m/s, older 1.24 m/s) and step velocity for the two age groups were similar in overground walking but older adults showed significantly slower walking speed (young 1.26 m/s, older 1.05 m/s) and step velocity on the treadmill due to reduced step length and prolonged step time. Older adults had shorter step length than young adults and both groups reduced step length on the treadmill. Step velocity and length of older adults’ dominant limb was asymmetrically larger. Older adults increased the proportion of double support in step time when treadmill walking. This adaptation combined with reduced step velocity and length may preserve balance. The results suggest that bilateral analyses should be employed to accurately describe asymmetric features of gait especially for older adults.

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Felipe Alvim, Lucenildo Cerqueira, Aluízio D’Affonsêca Netto, Guilherme Leite and Adriane Muniz

This study involved a comparison of 5 kinematic-based algorithms to detect heel strike (HS) and toe-off (TO) events during human locomotion at different speeds. The objective was to assess how different running and walking speeds affect contact event determination during treadmill locomotion. Thirty male runners performed walking at 5 km/h and running at 9, 11, and 13 km/h on a treadmill. A kinematic system was used to capture the trajectories of 2 retro-reflective markers placed at the subject’s right heel and second metatarsal. A footswitch device was used to determine the “true” times of HS and TO compared with 5 kinematic-based algorithms. The results of the current study illustrated that speed influences the HS error in the vertical position and horizontal velocity algorithms, and the TO error in the vertical position and horizontal velocity algorithms. This difference was found in the transition from walking to running; however, higher running speeds did not affect the error estimation. Higher accuracy was found with combined algorithms, namely, one using vertical acceleration and position and another using horizontal and vertical position with no influence from different locomotion speeds. Therefore, these algorithms are recommended in studies where speed is self-selected because they work well for a broad range of locomotion velocities.

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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.