Lower trunk motion and speed-dependence during walking

Justin J Kavanagh
Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation 2009, 6: 9

BACKGROUND: There is a limited understanding about how gait speed influences the control of upper body motion during walking. Therefore, the primary purpose of this study was to examine how gait speed influences healthy individual's lower trunk motion during overground walking. The secondary purpose was to assess if Principal Component Analysis (PCA) can be used to gain further insight into postural responses that occur at different walking speeds.

METHODS: Thirteen healthy subjects (23 +/- 3 years) performed 5 straight-line walking trials at self selected slow, preferred, and fast walking speeds. Accelerations of the lower trunk were measured in the anterior-posterior (AP), vertical (VT), and mediolateral (ML) directions using a triaxial accelerometer. Stride-to-stride acceleration amplitude, regularity and repeatability were examined with RMS acceleration, Approximate Entropy and Coefficient of Multiple determination respectively. Coupling between acceleration directions were calculated using Cross Approximate Entropy. PCA was used to reveal the dimensionality of trunk accelerations during walking at slow and preferred speeds, and preferred and fast speeds.

RESULTS: RMS acceleration amplitude increased with gait speed in all directions. ML and VT trunk accelerations had less signal regularity and repeatability during the slow compared to preferred speed. However, stride-to-stride acceleration regularity and repeatability did not differ between the preferred and fast walking speed conditions, partly due to an increase in coupling between frontal plane accelerations. The percentage of variance accounted for by each trunk acceleration Principal Component (PC) did not differ between grouped slow and preferred, and preferred and fast walking speed acceleration data.

CONCLUSION: The main finding of this study was that walking at speeds slower than preferred primarily alters lower trunk accelerations in the frontal plane. Despite greater amplitudes of trunk acceleration at fast speeds, the lack of regularity and repeatability differences between preferred and fast speeds suggest that features of trunk motion are preserved between the same conditions. While PCA indicated that features of trunk motion are preserved between slow and preferred, and preferred and fast speeds, the discriminatory ability of PCA to detect speed-dependent differences in walking patterns is limited compared to measures of signal regularity, repeatability, and coupling.

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