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Nonlinear time series analysis was used to estimate maximal Lyapunov exponents of select ankle and knee kinematics during three different conditions of treadmill walking: independent, side by side, and side by side with forced synchronization of stepping. Stride to stride variability was significantly increased for the condition in which individuals walked side by side and synchronized unintentionally when compared to the conditions of forced synchronization and independent walking. In addition, standard deviations of three kinematic variables of lower extremity movement were significantly increased during the condition in which unintentional synchronization occurred. No relationship was found between standard deviation and estimates of maximal Lyapunov exponents. An increase in kinematic variability during side by side walking for nonimpaired individuals who are not at risk of falling suggests that variability in certain aspects of performance might be indicative of a healthy system. Modeling this variability for an impaired individual to imitate may have beneficial effects on locomotor function. These results may therefore have implications for the rehabilitation of gait in humans by suggesting that a different functional outcome might be achieved by practicing side by side walking as opposed to more commonly used strategies involving independent walking.


This article was originally published in Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, volume 19, issue 2, in 2009. doi: DOI: 10.1063/1.3125762

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American Institute of Physics



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