Effects of simulated reduced gravity and walking speed on ankle, knee, and hip quasi-stiffness in overground walking

Mhairi MacLean*, Daniel P. Ferris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Quasi-stiffness characterizes the dynamics of a joint in specific sections of stance-phase and is used in the design of wearable devices to assist walking. We sought to investigate the effect of simulated reduced gravity and walking speed on quasi-stiffness of the hip, knee, and ankle in overground walking. 12 participants walked at 0.4, 0.8, 1.2, and 1.6 m/s in 1, 0.76, 0.54, and 0.31 gravity. We defined 11 delimiting points in stance phase (4 each for the ankle and hip, 3 for the knee) and calculated the quasi-stiffness for 4 phases for both the hip and ankle, and 2 phases for the knee. The R2 value quantified the suitability of the quasi-stiffness models. We found gravity level had a significant effect on 6 phases of quasi-stiffness, while speed significantly affected the quasi-stiffness in 5 phases. We concluded that the intrinsic muscle-tendon unit stiffness was the biggest determinant of quasi-stiffness. Speed had a significant effect on the R2 of all phases of quasi-stiffness. Slow walking (0.4 m/s) was the least accurately modelled walking speed. Our findings showed adaptions in gait strategy when relative power and strength of the joints were increased in low gravity, which has implications for prosthesis and exoskeleton design.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0271927
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume17
Issue number8
Early online date9 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 9 Aug 2022

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