This study aimed to investigate effects of walking direction and speed on gait complexity, symmetry and variability as indicators of neural control mechanisms, and if a period of backward walking has acute effects on forward walking. Twenty-two young adults attended 2 visits. In each visit participants walked forwards at preferred walking speed (PWS) for 3-minutes (pre) followed by 5-minutes walking each at 80%, 100% and 120% of PWS of either forward or backward walking then a further 3-minutes walking forward at PWS (post). The order of walking speed in each visit was randomised and walking direction of each visit was randomised. An inertial measurement unit was placed over L5 vertebra to record tri-axial accelerations. From the trunk accelerations multiscale entropy, harmonic ratio and stride time variability were calculated to measure complexity, symmetry and variability for each walk. Complexity increased with increasing walking speed for all axes in forward and backward walking, and backward walking was less complex than forward walking. Stride time variability was also greater in backward than forward walking. Anterio-posterior and medio-lateral complexity increased following forward and backward walking but there was no difference between forward and backward walking post effects. No effects were found for harmonic ratio. These results suggest during backward walking trunk motion is rigidly controlled but central pattern generators responsible for temporal gait patterns are less refined for backward walking. However, in both directions complexity increased as speed increased suggesting additional constraint of trunk motion, normally characterised by reduced complexity, is not applied as speed increases.
Walsh, Gregory S.Taylor, Zoe
Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work
Year of publication: 2019Date of RADAR deposit: 2019-10-14