Changes in kinematics, electromyography, and metabolic cost with asymmetrical walking in healthy young adults

Open Access
Barno, Eileen Margaret
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Jinger S. Gottschall, Thesis Supervisor
  • Stephen Jacob Piazza, Honors Advisor
  • kinematics
  • electromyography
  • metabolic cost
  • asymmetry
  • walking
  • gait
The purpose of this study was to determine if, following an adaptive period, gait kinematics, muscle activity and metabolic cost of asynchronous walking were greater than that of synchronous walking. I hypothesize that compared to synchronous walking, asynchronous walking will result in increased metabolic cost; increased fast-leg and decreased slow-leg muscle activity of the TA, BF, RF, and LG; increased stance time, double support, and step width; and decreased stride time, swing time, and step length. Thirteen healthy college students, 7 men and 6 women, completed the protocol that consisted of level walking on a split-belt treadmill in a series of synchronous and asynchronous walking phases. With respect to the slow leg, the adaptive phase resulted in decreased stride times, decreased swing time, decreased stance time, decreased periods of double support, increased step length, and increased step width (Table 3.1). These changes with asynchronous gait were often coupled with changes on the fast leg, which included increased swing time, decreased stance time, increased periods of double support, increased step length, and increased step width (Table 3.1). Asynchronous walking resulted in greater muscle activity during periods of the gait cycle atypical for the respective muscle. Specifically, asynchronous walking resulted in significantly greater right TA activity in swing (Figure 3.7), greater right VL activity in mid to terminal stance, greater left VL activity during terminal swing (Figure 3.8), greater left LG activity during late stance through initial swing, greater right LG activity during terminal swing (Figure 3.9), greater left BF activity during terminal stance, and greater right BF activity from mid through terminal swing (Figure 3.10). Additionally, metabolic cost during the adaptive phase was 26.5% greater than the control, although this value decreased significantly through the adaptive phase, and was 22.6% less than the control by the end of the post-adaptive phase. The data confirm previous studies that suggest that adult human neural systems are capable of adjusting to asynchronous interlimb patterns and that initially exaggerated asymmetries trend toward control values after a period of adaptation.