Linear and angular control of circular walking in healthy older adults and subjects with cerebellar ataxia

Adam D Goodworth, Caroline Paquette, Geoffrey Melvill Jones, Edward W Block, William A Fletcher, Bin Hu, Fay B Horak
Experimental Brain Research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation Cérébrale 2012, 219 (1): 151-61
Linear and angular control of trunk and leg motion during curvilinear navigation was investigated in subjects with cerebellar ataxia and age-matched control subjects. Subjects walked with eyes open around a 1.2-m circle. The relationship of linear to angular motion was quantified by determining the ratios of trunk linear velocity to trunk angular velocity and foot linear position to foot angular position. Errors in walking radius (the ratio of linear to angular motion) also were quantified continuously during the circular walk. Relative variability of linear and angular measures was compared using coefficients of variation (CoV). Patterns of variability were compared using power spectral analysis for the trunk and auto-covariance analysis for the feet. Errors in radius were significantly increased in patients with cerebellar damage as compared to controls. Cerebellar subjects had significantly larger CoV of feet and trunk in angular, but not linear, motion. Control subjects also showed larger CoV in angular compared to linear motion of the feet and trunk. Angular and linear components of stepping differed in that angular, but not linear, foot placement had a negative correlation from one stride to the next. Thus, walking in a circle was associated with more, and a different type of, variability in angular compared to linear motion. Results are consistent with increased difficulty of, and role of the cerebellum in, control of angular trunk and foot motion for curvilinear locomotion.

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