Manipulating the stride length/stride velocity relationship of walking using a treadmill and rhythmic auditory cueing in non-disabled older individuals. A short-term feasibility study

D J A Eikema, L W Forrester, J Whitall
Gait & Posture 2014, 40 (4): 712-4
One target for rehabilitating locomotor disorders in older adults is to increase mobility by improving walking velocity. Combining rhythmic auditory cueing (RAC) and treadmill training permits the study of the stride length/stride velocity ratio (SL/SV), often reduced in those with mobility deficits. We investigated the use of RAC to increase velocity by manipulating the SL/SV ratio in older adults. Nine participants (6 female; age: 61.1 ± 8.8 years) walked overground on a gait mat at preferred and fast speeds. After acclimatization to comfortable speed on a treadmill, participants adjusted their cadence to match the cue for 3 min at 115% of preferred speed by either (a) increasing stride length only or (b) increasing stride frequency only. Following training, participants walked across the gait mat at preferred velocity without, and then with, RAC. Group analysis determined no immediate overground velocity increase, but reintroducing RAC did produce an increase in velocity after both conditions. Group and single subject analysis determined that the SL/SV ratio changed in the intended direction only in the stride length condition. We conclude that RAC is a powerful organizer of gait parameters, evidenced by its induced after-effects following short duration training.

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