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Explicit Control of Step Timing during Split-Belt Walking

Velasquez, Nicolas (2017) Explicit Control of Step Timing during Split-Belt Walking. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Humans have the great ability to adapt their walking to different situations imposing distinct motor demands. However, people suffering from neurological disorders often adopt asymmetric walking pattern, affecting their mobility.
It has been proposed that people can adapt spatial and temporal gait features independently when exposed to new environmental conditions. For example, previous work indicates that subjects can adapt when they step (i.e., step timing) without changing where they step (i.e., step position). New environments can be recreated using a split-belt treadmill that moves their legs at different speeds. Interestingly, this independent adaptation of spatial and temporal gait features has only been observed when subjects voluntarily modify the adaptation of spatial walking features (e.g., step position).
This raises the question of whether temporal gait features (e.g., step timing) can be also altered voluntarily without affecting the adaptation of spatial ones. To address this question, we contrasted the adaptation of spatial and temporal gait features when subjects walked on a split-belt treadmill under two conditions: 1) temporal feedback condition and 2) control condition. The temporal feedback group received visual feedback indicating when to step to prevent the adaptation of step timing during split-belt walking, while the control group walked without receiving any visual feedback. Kinematic and kinetic data was recorded during the entire duration of the experiment.
We found that subjects in the temporal feedback group could modulate their step timing in order to maintain a stepping rhythm similar to tied walking. In addition to this, modifying subjects’ step times reduces the impact of the perturbation, and therefore reduces the spatial adaptation. Independently of the feedback, all subjects experienced the same belt speeds on the treadmill. We show that despite being exposed to the same conditions, subjects are actually able to adapt in a way that they feel less perturbed.
This study shows promising result on the possibility of establishing a relationship between spatial and temporal gait features, and therefore being able to help develop rehabilitation processes. For patients who show asymmetries in only one domain, this could be particularly useful since it could allow to target specific motor outputs.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Velasquez, Nicolasniv15@pitt.eduniv15
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWang,
Committee MemberSharma,
Thesis AdvisorTorres-Oviedo,
Date: 1 February 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 November 2016
Approval Date: 1 February 2017
Submission Date: 24 November 2016
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 59
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Mechanical Engineering
Degree: MSME - Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: No
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gait, biomechanics, kinematics, motion capture, rehabilitation
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2017 17:59
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2019 06:15


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