Steps to take to enhance gait stability: the effect of stride frequency, stride length, and walking speed on local dynamic stability and margins of stability
Dieen, J.H. van
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The purpose of the current study was to investigate whether adaptations of stride length, stride frequency, and walking speed, independently influence local dynamic stability and the size of the medio-lateral and backward margins of stability during walking. Nine healthy subjects walked 25 trials on a treadmill at different combinations of stride frequency, stride length, and consequently at different walking speeds. Visual feedback about the required and the actual combination of stride frequency and stride length was given during the trials. Generalized Estimating Equations were used to investigate the independent contribution of stride length, stride frequency, and walking speed on the measures of gait stability. Increasing stride frequency was found to enhance medio-lateral margins of stability. Backward margins of stability became larger as stride length decreased or walking speed increased. For local dynamic stability no significant effects of stride frequency, stride length or walking speed were found. We conclude that adaptations in stride frequency, stride length and/or walking speed can result in an increase of the medio-lateral and backward margins of stability, while these adaptations do not seem to affect local dynamic stability. Gait training focusing on the observed stepping strategies to enhance margins of stability might be a useful contribution to programs aimed at fall prevention.