Walking speed changes in response to novel user-driven treadmill control
Review articleOpen access

AbstractImplementing user-driven treadmill control in gait training programs for rehabilitation may be an effective means of enhancing motor learning and improving functional performance. This study aimed to determine the effect of a user-driven treadmill control scheme on walking speeds, anterior ground reaction forces (AGRF), and trailing limb angles (TLA) of healthy adults. Twenty-three participants completed a 10-m overground walking task to measure their overground self-selected (SS) walking speeds. Then, they walked at their SS and fastest comfortable walking speeds on an instrumented split-belt treadmill in its fixed speed and user-driven control modes. The user-driven treadmill controller combined inertial-force, gait parameter, and position based control to adjust the treadmill belt speed in real time. Walking speeds, peak AGRF, and TLA were compared among test conditions using paired t-tests (α = 0.05). Participants chose significantly faster SS and fast walking speeds in the user-driven mode than the fixed speed mode (p > 0.05). There was no significant difference between the overground SS walking speed and the SS speed from the user-driven trials (p < 0.05). Changes in AGRF and TLA were caused primarily by changes in walking speed, not the treadmill controller. Our findings show the user-driven treadmill controller allowed participants to select walking speeds faster than their chosen speeds on the fixed speed treadmill and similar to their overground speeds. Since user-driven treadmill walking increases cognitive activity and natural mobility, these results suggest user-driven treadmill control would be a beneficial addition to current gait training programs for rehabilitation.

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