Lower extremity sagittal joint moment production during split-belt treadmill walking

Ryan T Roemmich, Elizabeth L Stegemöller, Chris J Hass
Journal of Biomechanics 2012 November 15, 45 (16): 2817-21
The split-belt treadmill (SBT) has recently been used to rehabilitate locomotor asymmetries in clinical populations. However, the joint mechanics produced while walking on a SBT are not well-understood. The purpose of this study was to investigate the lower extremity sagittal joint moment patterns produced by each limb during SBT walking and provide insight as to how these joint moment patterns may be useful in rehabilitating unilateral gait deficits. Thirteen healthy young volunteers walked on the SBT with the belts tied and in a "SPLIT" session in which one belt moved twice as fast as the other. Sagittal lower extremity joint moment and ground reaction force impulses were then calculated over the braking and propulsive phases of the gait cycle. Paired t-tests were performed to analyze magnitude differences between conditions (i.e. the fast and slow limbs during SPLIT vs. the same limb during tied-belt walking) and between the fast and slow limbs during SPLIT. During the SPLIT session, the fast limb produced higher ground reaction force and ankle moment impulses during the propulsive and braking phases, and lower knee moment impulses during the propulsive phase when compared to the slow limb. The knee moment impulse was also significantly higher during braking in the slow limb than in the fast limb. The mechanics of each limb during the SPLIT session also differed from the mechanics observed when the belt speeds were tied. Based on these findings, we suggest that each belt may have intrinsic value in rehabilitating specific unilateral locomotor deficits.

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