Welcome to poster #578 and winner of the ASB President’s Award for the best poster!!

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Self-pace treadmill controllers influence gait variability but not average walking speed

Cesar R. Castano

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of Central Florida
castanocesar@knights.ucf.edu

Helen J. Huang

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Disability, Aging, and Technology (DAT) cluster
University of Central Florida
hjhuang@ucf.edu

Purpose: To investigate how self-pace treadmill controller sensitivity affects walking speed, step length, and step width on different different slopes (decline, level, and incline).

Hypothesis: More sensitive self-pace controllers would have greater walking speed fluctuations, step length variability, and step width variability on all slopes.

Background

Self-pace treadmills allow subjects to walk at their chosen walking speed while preserving natural gait fluctuations [1,2].

Equipment availability, laboratory space, and experiment design have led to a variety of custom self-pace controllers with different parameters, which may influence a subject's gait.

vASB2020_castano-huang-self-pace-schematic-hq
Motekforce Link M-Gait Treadmill Self-Pace mode controller (i.e. not our design). Equations obtained from [2]
vASB2020_castano-huang-speed-fluctuations

controller sensitivity did not affect average gait parameters but did affect gait variability

Curly brackets indicate significant differences between slopes within a given sensitivity shown as color coded asterisks, * low, * medium, * high (Tukey HSD, p<0.05). Square brackets with black asterisks indicate significant differences between sensitivities within a slope (Tukey HSD, p<0.05).

detrended variances were similar regardless of self-pace controller sensitivity, but speed-trend step length variances increased with higher sensitivity self-pace controllers

final thoughts

Increasing self-pace controller sensitivity:
  • did not affect: 1) average walking speeds or gait parameters; 2) detrended variances; and 3) speed-trend step width variance
  • resulted in increased 1) speed variance, 2) total step length variance, and 3) speed-trend step length variance.
Gait variability during self-pace treadmill walking included additional speed-related components that increased with more sensitive controllers, which may affect the interpretation of gait variability metrics.
acknowledgements

Supported in part by NIH R01AG054621 to HJH, Gerontology Research Award from the Learning Institute for Elders (LIFE) at UCF to HJH, and a UCF ORC Fellowship to CRC.

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