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Locomotion pattern and foot pressure adjustments during gentle turns in healthy subjects

Peyer, KE and Brassey, C and Rose, K and Sellers, WI (2017) Locomotion pattern and foot pressure adjustments during gentle turns in healthy subjects. Journal of Biomechanics, 60. pp. 65-71. ISSN 0021-9290

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Abstract

People suffering from locomotor impairment find turning manoeuvres more challenging than straightahead walking. Turning manoeuvres are estimated to comprise a substantial proportion of steps taken daily, yet research has predominantly focused on straight-line walking, meaning that the basic kinetic, kinematic and foot pressure adaptations required for turning are not as well understood. We investigated how healthy subjects adapt their locomotion patterns to accommodate walking along a gently curved trajectory (radius 2.75 m). Twenty healthy adult participants performed walking tasks at self-selected speeds along straight and curved pathways. For the first time for this mode of turning, plantar pressures were recorded using insole foot pressure sensors while participants’ movements were simultaneously tracked using marker-based 3D motion capture. During the steady-state strides at the apex of the turn, the mean operating point of the inside ankle shifted by 1 degree towards dorsiflexion and that for the outside ankle shifted towards plantarflexion. The largest change in relative joint angle range was an increase in hip rotation in the inside leg (>60%). In addition, the inside foot was subject to a prolonged stance phase and a 10% increase in vertical force in the posteromedial section of the foot compared to straight-line walking. Most of the mechanical change required was therefore generated by the inside leg with hip rotation being a major driver of the gentle turn. This study provides new insight into healthy gait during gentle turns and may help us to understand the mechanics behind some forms of impairment.

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