Stability-normalised walking speed: A new approach for human gait perturbation research

Christopher Mccrum*, Paul Willems, Kiros Karamanidis, Kenneth Meijer

*Corresponding author for this work

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In gait stability research, neither self-selected walking speeds, nor the same prescribed walking speed for all participants, guarantee equivalent gait stability among participants. Furthermore, these options may differentially affect the response to different gait perturbations, which is problematic when comparing groups with different capacities. We present a method for decreasing inter-individual differences in gait stability by adjusting walking speed to equivalent margins of stability (MoS). Eighteen healthy adults walked on a split-belt treadmill for two-minute bouts at 0.4 m/s up to 1.8 m/s in 0.2 m/s intervals. The stability-normalised walking speed (MoS = 0.05 m) was calculated using the mean MoS at touchdown of the final 10 steps of each speed. Participants then walked for three minutes at this speed and were subsequently exposed to a treadmill belt acceleration perturbation. A further 12 healthy adults were exposed to the same perturbation while walking at 1.3 m/s: the average of the previous group. Large ranges in MoS were observed during the prescribed speeds (6–10 cm across speeds) and walking speed significantly (P < 0.001) affected MoS. The stability-normalised walking speeds resulted in MoS equal or very close to the desired 0.05 m and reduced between-participant variability in MoS. The second group of participants walking at 1.3 m/s had greater inter-individual variation in MoS during both unperturbed and perturbed walking compared to 12 sex, height and leg length-matched participants from the stability-normalised walking speed group. The current method decreases inter-individual differences in gait stability which may benefit gait perturbation and stability research, in particular studies on populations with different locomotor capacities. [Preprint:]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-53
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2019


  • Dynamic stability
  • Falls
  • Locomotion
  • Margins of stability
  • Motor control
  • Postural balance

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