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Temporal-distance and kinematic adaptations to a novel walking task Vanicek, Natalie Katja

Abstract

The process of relearning locomotor skills is a complex one for the person with a lower-limb amputation and difficult to track in the rehabilitation setting. An in-house designed prosthetic simulator (PS) was created to allow able-bodied individuals to walk in a prosthetic-like situation. The purpose of this study was to follow the changes in selected gait variables during a novel walking task. Kinematic data were collected for ten able-bodied individuals during 30-minutes of continuous walking with the PS. Walking speed and selected gait characteristics and the vertical orientation of body segments were computed every 5% of the total walking distance during the first lab visit and walking speed again during a second lab visit. Separate repeated measures ANOVAs were conducted with p < 0.01. Participants were immediately able to walk unassisted with the PS. Walking speed on the first test session was initially slow (0.27 m • s-1) but significantly increased over distance walked (to 0.70 m • s-1). Initial time in stance was significantly greater on the intact limb (86 %) than on the prosthetic limb (68 %). Prosthetic step length was significantly longer (0.52 m) than intact step length (-0.10 m). Lower-limb segments were significantly less vertically oriented at prosthetic/intact foot contact during the walking task. Initial walking speed on the second session (0.58 m • s-1) was significantly higher than on the first session. Variability of the measured gait variables was initially high but decreased within the first 5% of the total distance walked. Walking speed during the first five strides after removing the PS (1.13 m • s-1) was significantly slower than the control condition (1.30 m • s-1). Participants were able to adapt quickly to the new constraints imposed by a PS by modifying kinematic variables. Changes occurred during the first 5%-10% of total walking distance suggesting adaptive strategies were developed early in the task. The presence of a short-term speed after effect suggested that adaptation had occurred. The findings from this project provide a novel outlook for rehabilitation strategies with the potential of tracking able-bodied individuals as they learn to walk in a prosthetic-like situation.

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