Scientific Reports

| 2023

Modified stepping behaviour during outdoor winter walking increases resistance to forward losses of stability

Moticon Marketing Moticon Marketing 100% 8 I93 Aaron N. Best, Amy R. Wu Aaron N. Best, Amy R. Wu Turn on screen reader support To enable screen reader support, press Ctrl+Alt+Z To learn about keyboard shortcuts, press Ctrl+slash
Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Ingenuity Labs Research Institute, Queen’s University, Kingston

Keywords

gait, steps, stability, balance, sensor insoles, gait analysis

Abstract

Healthy humans are proficient at maintaining stability when faced with diverse walking conditions, however, the control strategies that lead to this proficiency are unclear. Previous laboratory-based research has predominantly concluded that corrective stepping is the main strategy, but whether this finding holds when facing everyday obstacles outside of the laboratory is uncertain. We investigated changes in gait stability behaviour when walking outdoors in the summer and winter, hypothesizing that as ground conditions worsened in the winter, the stepping strategy would be hindered. Stability would then be maintained through compensatory strategies such as with ankle torques and trunk rotation. Data was collected in the summer and winter using inertial measurement units to collect kinematics and instrumented insoles to collect vertical ground reaction forces. Using the goodness of fit for a multivariate regression between the centre of mass state and foot placement we found that, counter to our hypothesis, stepping was not hindered by winter conditions. Instead, the stepping strategy was modified to increase the anterior-posterior margin of stability, increasing the resistance to a forward loss of stability. With stepping being unhindered, we did not observe any additional compensation from the ankle or trunk strategies.

Moticon's Summary

In this study aimed to investigate stepping strategies for walking outdoors in winter and summer. Testing was performed in both conditions and participants were outfitted with multiple IMUs to collect kinematics as well as OpenGo sensor insoles to collect vertical ground reaction forces. It was hypothesized that stepping behavior in winter conditions would include compensatory strategies like ankle torques to maintain stability. However, contrary to their hypothesis, the authors found no compensatory stepping strategies and that stepping was not hindered. Instead stepping behavior was modified to increase stability on possibly worsened ground conditions in winter.
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