Background: Researchers and clinicians often use gait speed to classify hemiparetic gait dysfunction because it offers clinical predictive capacity. However, gait speed fails to distinguish unique biomechanical characteristics that differentiate aspects of gait dysfunction. Research question: Here we describe a novel classification of hemiparetic gait dysfunction based on biomechanical traits of pelvic excursion. We hypothesize that individuals with greater deviation of pelvic excursion, relative to controls, demonstrate greater impairment in key gait characteristics. Methods: We compared 41 participants (61.0 ± 11.2yrs) with chronic post-stroke hemiparesis to 21 non-disabled controls (55.8 ± 9.0yrs). Participants walked on an instrumented split-belt treadmill at self-selected walking speed. Pelvic excursion was quantified as the peak-to-peak magnitude of pelvic motion in three orthogonal planes (i.e., tilt, rotation, and obliquity). Raw values of pelvic excursion were compared against the distribution of control data to establish deviation scores which were assigned bilaterally for the three planes producing six values per individual. Deviation scores were then summed to produce a composite pelvic deviation score. Based on composite scores, participants were allocated to one of three categories of hemiparetic gait dysfunction with progressively increasing pelvic excursion deviation relative to controls: Type I (n = 15) – minimal pelvic excursion deviation; Type II (n = 20) – moderate pelvic excursion deviation; and Type III (n = 6) – marked pelvic excursion deviation. We assessed resulting groups for asymmetry in key gait parameters including: kinematics, joint powers temporally linked to the stance-to-swing transition, and timing of lower extremity muscle activity. Results: All groups post-stroke walked at similar self-selected speeds; however, classification based on pelvic excursion deviation revealed progressive asymmetry in gait kinematics, kinetics and temporal patterns of muscle activity. Significance: The progressive asymmetry revealed in multiple gait characteristics suggests exaggerated pelvic motion contributes to gait dysfunction post-stroke.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine