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Normative data: anticipatory gait changes with change of surface condition

1 May 2000


Whether going from a sidewalk to grass or going from a tiled kitchen floor to a carpeted living room floor, people are constantly encountering changes in the surfaces they walk on. Most people do not consciously attend to these changes in floor surface or to the changes they may make in their gait pattern before, during, or after a surface change. There have been numerous studies on normal gait and on changes in gait while stepping over obstacles, however, no research as been done to discover if there are changes in gait that occur prior to a change in floor surface. The purpose of this study was to gather normal data of anticipatory changes in gait that occur prior to a change in floor surface. By knowing what changes do occur in preparation for a change in floor surface, future studies can look at groups of individuals with abnormal gait to determine if the appropriate anticipatory changes are occurring. Forty-six subjects between the ages of 21 and 34 years were recruited from the Pacific University campus. Each subject walked barefoot at their normal, comfortable pace a minimum of two trials; one trial on a single surface condition and one trial on a changing surface. For each condition, 4 gait parameters were collected from the last full stride using a gait-evaluation mat. The single surface values were compared to the change in surface values for each subject. A statistically significant increase (p = .0007) in stride velocity was found in the change in surface condition (mean = 138.135 em/sec) compared to the single surface condition (mean = 132.732 em/sec). There were no significant differences between single surface and change in surface conditions prior to a change in floor surface with stride length, step length (last step and second to last step), or step width. The results of our study suggest that velocity is the only one of the gait parameters examined that requires more variability in anticipation to a change in floor surface from solid to carpet.


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