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Andrew D. Nordin and Janet S. Dufek

Intra-individual trial-to-trial variability is inherent in human movement. 1 – 4 A variety of methods exist to examine movement variability, with greater variable inclusion and time series analyses each considered essential advances in understanding movement control. 5 , 6 Movement coordination

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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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Steve Hansen, Digby Elliott and Michael A. Khan

The utility of ellipsoids for quantifying central tendency and variability throughout the trajectory of goal-directed movements is described. Aiming movements were measured over 2 days of practice and under full-vision and no-vision conditions. A three-dimensional optoelectronic system measured the movements. Individual ellipsoid locations, dimensions, and volumes were derived from the average location and the spatial variability of the effector’s trajectory at proportional temporal periods throughout the movement. Changes in ellipsoid volume over time illustrate the evolution in motor control that occurred with practice and the processes associated with visual control. This technique has the potential to extend our understanding of limb control and can be applied to practical problems such as equipment design and evaluation of movement rehabilitation.

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Denise Jennings, Stuart Cormack, Aaron J. Coutts, Luke J. Boyd and Robert J. Aughey

Purpose:

To examine the difference in distance measured by two global positioning system (GPS) units of the same model worn by the same player while performing movements common to team sports.

Methods:

Twenty elite Australian football players completed two trials of the straight line movement (10, 20, 40 m) at four speeds (walk, jog, stride, sprint), two trials of the changes of direction (COD) courses of two different frequencies (gradual and tight), and five trials of a team sport running simulation circuit. To assess inter-unit variability for total and high intensity running (HIR) distance measured in matches, data from eight field players were collected in three Australian Hockey League (AHL) matches during the 2009 season. Each subject wore two GPS devices (MinimaxX v2.5, Catapult, Australia) that collected position data at 5 Hz for each movement and match trial. The percentage difference ±90% confidence interval (CI) was used to determine differences between units.

Results:

Differences (±90% CI) between the units ranged from 9.9 ± 4.7% to 11.9 ± 19.5% for straight line running movements and from 9.5 ± 7.2% to 10.7 ± 7.9% in the COD courses. Similar results were exhibited in the team sport circuit (11.1 ± 4.2%). Total distance (10.3 ± 6.2%) and HIR distance (10.3 ± 15.6) measured during the match play displayed similar variability.

Conclusion:

It is recommended that players wear the same GPS unit for each exercise session to reduce measurement error. The level of between-unit measurement error should be considered when comparing results from players wearing different GPS units.

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Ross H. Miller, Stacey A. Meardon, Timothy R. Derrick and Jason C. Gillette

Previous research has proposed that a lack of variability in lower extremity coupling during running is associated with pathology. The purpose of the study was to evaluate lower extremity coupling variability in runners with and without a history of iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) during an exhaustive run. Sixteen runners ran to voluntary exhaustion on a motorized treadmill while a motion capture system recorded reflective marker locations. Eight runners had a history of ITBS. At the start and end of the run, continuous relative phase (CRP) angles and CRP variability between strides were calculated for key lower extremity kinematic couplings. The ITBS runners demonstrated less CRP variability than controls in several couplings between segments that have been associated with knee pain and ITBS symptoms, including tibia rotation–rearfoot motion and rearfoot motion–thigh ad/abduction, but more variability in knee flexion/extension–foot ad/abduction. The ITBS runners also demonstrated low variability at heel strike in coupling between rearfoot motion–tibia rotation. The results suggest that runners prone to ITBS use abnormal segmental coordination patterns, particular in couplings involving thigh ad/abduction and tibia internal/external rotation. Implications for variability in injury etiology are suggested.

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Peter F. Vint and Richard N. Hinrichs

Isometric knee extension force and average integrated EMG of the vastus lateralis muscle were obtained from 27 healthy subjects using a maximum effort, ramp and hold protocol. In each of the 125 total trials mat were included in the analysis, a 2-s plateau region was extracted and divided into two adjacent 1000-ms bins. Variability and reliability of bin-to-bin measurements of force and EMG were then evaluated across 14 different integration intervals ranging from 10 to 1000 ms. Statistical analyses of bin-to-bin variability measures demonstrated that integration intervals of 250 ms and longer significantly reduced variability and improved reliability of average integrated EMG values during maximum effort isometric exertions. Bin-to-bin EMG reliability increased from .728 at 10 ms to .991 at 1000 ms. Force parameters appeared less sensitive to changes in length of the integration interval. It was suggested that longer intervals might also improve the validity of the EMG-force relationship during maximum effort isometric exertions by reducing problems associated with electromechanical delay.

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Hai-Jung Steffi Shih, Danielle N. Jarvis, Pamela Mikkelsen and Kornelia Kulig

symmetrical bipedal jumping and landing. The practice of a task leads to acquisition of skill that is reflected in performance and movement variability. Performance variability, representing how much a performance parameter (eg, accuracy or speed) changes between trials, decreases with mastery of skills. On

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John H. Challis

This study examined the influence of force plate targeting, via stride length adjustments, on the magnitude and consistency of ground reaction force and segment angle profiles of the stance phase of human running. Seven male subjects (height, 1.77 m ± 0.081; mass, 72.4 kg ± 7.52; age range, 23 to 32 years) were asked to run at a mean velocity of 3.2 m · s–1 under three conditions (normal, short, and long strides). Four trials were completed for each condition. For each trial, the ground reaction forces were measured and the orientations of the foot, shank, and thigh computed. There were no statistically significant differences (p > .05) between the coefficients of variation of ground reaction force and segment angle profiles under the three conditions, so these profiles were produced consistently. Peak active vertical ground reaction forces, their timings, and segment angles at foot off were not significantly different across conditions. In contrast, significant differences between conditions were found for peak vertical impact forces and their timings, and for the three lower limb segment angles at the start of force plate contact. These results have implications for human gait studies, which require subjects to target the force plate. Targeting may be acceptable depending on the variables to be analyzed.

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Scott W. Ducharme and Richard E.A. van Emmerik

Biological systems are inherently variable, and this variability has been the focus of much research in the movement sciences. In human locomotion research, a commonly accepted convention has been that variability is a one-size-fits-all parameter; more is bad. This “negative” perspective towards

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Alessia Longo and Ruud Meulenbroek

Movement repetition and thus monotony is a common factor underlying many manual motor tasks such as typing, texting, and handwriting. However, each movement is unique and repetition necessarily implies variation. Movement variability has recently received growing attention in motor control studies