Repeated exposure to tripping like perturbations elicits more precise control and lower toe clearance of the swinging foot during steady walking

Tamon Miyake, Federica Aprigliano, Shigeki Sugano, Silvestro Micera, Vito Monaco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Controlling minimum toe clearance (MTC) is considered an important factor in preventing tripping. In the current study, we investigated modifications of neuro-muscular control underlying toe clearance during steady locomotion induced by repeated exposure to tripping-like perturbations of the right swing foot. Fourteen healthy young adults (mean age 26.4 ± 3.1 years) participated in the study. The experimental protocol consisted of three identical trials, each involving three phases: steady walking (baseline), perturbation, and steady walking (post-perturbation). During the perturbation, participants experienced 30 tripping-like perturbations at unexpected timing delivered by a custom-made mechatronic perturbation device. The temporal parameters (cadence and stance phase%), mean, and standard deviation of MTC were computed across approximately 90 strides collected during both baseline and post-perturbation phases, for all trials. The effects of trial (three levels), phase (two levels: baseline and post-perturbation) and foot (two levels: right and left) on the outcome variables were analyzed using a three-way repeated measures analysis of variance. The results revealed that exposure to repeated trip-like perturbations modified MTC toward more precise control and lower toe clearance of the swinging foot, which appeared to reflect both the expectation of potential forthcoming perturbations and a quicker compensatory response in cases of a lack of balance. Moreover, locomotion control enabled subjects to maintain symmetric rhythmic features during post-perturbation steady walking. Finally, the effects of exposure to perturbation quickly disappeared among consecutive trials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102775
JournalHuman Movement Science
Volume76
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr

Keywords

  • Falling
  • Locomotion
  • Minimum toe clearance
  • Perturbation
  • Tripping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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