An examination of constraints affecting the intralimb coordination of hemiparetic gait
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A dynamical systems approach to the study of locomotor intralimb coordination in those with hemiparesis led to an examination of the utility of the shank-thigh relative phase (RP) as a collective variable and the identification of potential constraints that may shape this coordination. Eighteen non-disabled individuals formed three groups matched to the age and gender of six participants with chronic right hemiparesis. The three groups differed in the constraints imposed on their walking: (1) walking at their preferred walking speed; (2) walking as slowly as those with hemiparesis; and, (3) walking slowly with a right ankle-foot orthosis (AFO). The results revealed an asymmetry in intralimb coordination between the unaffected and affected leg of those with hemiparesis localized to the latter third of the gait cycle when the limb is advanced from the end of stance to the reestablishment of a new stance. Walking slowly with or without an AFO resulted in no measureable effect in the non-disabled, but accounts for 22% of the variance in the intralimb coordination of the hemiplegic's affected limb and 16% in the unaffected limb. The AFO offered little additional contribution. These results derive from shank-thigh RP that is shown to provide more information about intralimb coordination than knee angle displacement. Implications for these results and the use of RP for rehabilitation are discussed. (C) 2000 Elsevier B.V. B.V. All rights reserved. PsycINFO classification. 3297. 2330.