Treadmills are often used in clinical settings to improve walking balance control in patients with gait impairments. However, knowledge of the effects of belt speed on balance control remains incomplete. The current study determined such effects in terms of inclination angles (IA) and the rate of change (RCIA) of the center of mass (COM) motion relative to the center of pressure (COP) in twelve healthy adults at five belt speeds, including the subjects’ preferred walking speed (PWS), as measured using a motion capture system and an instrumented treadmill. The values of IAs and RCIAs at key gait events and their average values over single-limb support (DLS) and double-limb support (DLS) were compared between speeds using one-way repeated measures analysis of variances. While the COM-COP controls were different between SLS and DLS, they were inter-related to form an integrated whole. Among the belt speeds, the range of frontal IA during SLS was smallest at the PWS (p < 0.05). With increasing speed, most variables of the sagittal IAs and RCIAs, and of the frontal RCIAs during DLS showed a linearly increasing trend (p < 0.001). A linearly decreasing trend was found in the frontal IA at toe-off and in the average frontal RCIA during SLS (p < 0.05). The PWS appeared to be the best compromise between frontal stability during SLS and smooth weight-transfer during DLS. The current results provide useful baseline data for selecting speeds according to training needs, and may be helpful for developing protocols for gait retraining for patients with gait impairment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine