For targeted prevention of falls, it is necessary to identify individuals with balance impairments. To test the sensitivity of measures of variability, local stability and orbital stability of trunk kinematics to balance impairments during gait, we used galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) to impair balance in 12 young adults while walking on a treadmill at different speeds. Inertial sensors were used to measure trunk accelerations, from which variability in the medio-lateral direction and local and orbital stability were calculated. The short-term Lyapunov exponent and variability reflected the destabilizing effect of GVS, while the long-term Lyapunov exponent and Floquet multipliers suggested increased stability. Therefore, we concluded that only short-term Lyapunov exponents and variability can be used to asses stability of gait. In addition, to investigate the feasibility of using these measures in screening for fall risk, the presence or absence of GVS was predicted with variability and the short-term Lyapunov exponent. Predictions were good at all walking speeds, but best at preferred walking speed, with a correct classification in 83.3% of the cases.
- Gait stability
- Galvanic vestibular stimulation
- Maximum Lyapunov exponents
- Maximum Floquet multipliers