Description

Background
Robotic devices have been utilized in gait rehabilitation but have only produced moderate results when compared to conventional physiotherapy. Because bipedal walking requires neural coupling and dynamic interactions between

Background
Robotic devices have been utilized in gait rehabilitation but have only produced moderate results when compared to conventional physiotherapy. Because bipedal walking requires neural coupling and dynamic interactions between the legs, a fundamental understanding of the sensorimotor mechanisms of inter-leg coordination during walking, which are not well understood but are systematically explored in this study, is needed to inform robotic interventions in gait therapy.
Methods
In this study we investigate mechanisms of inter-leg coordination by utilizing novel sensory perturbations created by real-time control of floor stiffness on a split-belt treadmill. We systematically alter the unilateral magnitude of the walking surface stiffness and the timing of these perturbations within the stance phase of the gait cycle, along with the level of body-weight support, while recording the kinematic and muscular response of the uperturbed leg. This provides new insight into the role of walking surface stiffness in inter-leg coordination during human walking. Both paired and unpaired unadjusted t-tests at the 95 % confidence level are used in the approriate scernario to determine statistical significance of the results.
Results
We present results of increased hip, knee, and ankle flexion, as well as increased tibialis anterior and soleus activation, in the unperturbed leg of healthy subjects that is repeatable and scalable with walking surface stiffness. The observed response was not impacted by the level of body-weight support provided, which suggests that walking surface stiffness is a unique stimulus in gait. In addition, we show that the activation of the tibialis anterior and soleus muscles is altered by the timing of the perturbations within the gait cycle.
Conclusions
This paper characterizes the contralateral leg’s response to ipsilateral manipulations of the walking surface and establishes the importance of walking surface stiffness in inter-leg coordination during human walking.

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    Date Created
    • 2016-03-22
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    Identifier
    • Digital object identifier: 10.1186/s12984-016-0140-y
    • Identifier Type
      International standard serial number
      Identifier Value
      1743-0003

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    This is a suggested citation. Consult the appropriate style guide for specific citation guidelines.

    Skidmore, J., & Artemiadis, P. (2016). On the effect of walking surface stiffness on inter-limb coordination in human walking: toward bilaterally informed robotic gait rehabilitation. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 13(1). doi:10.1186/s12984-016-0140-y

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