University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Local Dynamic Stability in Turning and Straight-Line Gait


Segal AD, Orendurff MS, Czerniecki JM, Shofer JB, Klute GK



Publication Info:

Journal of Biomechanics, 41(7):486-93


Successful community and household ambulation require the ability to navigate corners and maneuver around obstacles, posing unique challenges compared to straight-line walking. The challenges associated with turning may contribute to an increased incidence of falling and the occurrence of fall-related injuries. A measure of stability applied to turning gait may be able to quantify a system's response to naturally occurring disturbances associated with turning and identify subjects at greater risk of falling. An index of stability has been used previously to assess the rate of kinematic separation (local dynamic stability) during straight-line gait. The purpose of this study was to determine if local dynamic stability during constant speed turning is reduced compared to straight-line treadmill walking. Maximum finite-time Lyapunov exponents (lambda) were used to estimate the local stability of able-bodied subjects' (n=19) sagittal plane hip, knee, and ankle trajectories for turning compared to straight-line walking at two different walking speeds. Turning lambda was greater than straight lambda for the hip, right knee, and ankle (p<0.05). Turning lambda for the left knee angle was similar to straight lambda. There were no differences in lambda between left and right limbs for the hip and ankle and also no differences between the inside and outside limbs during turning for all joints. These findings indicate able-bodied subjects' hip, right knee, and ankle kinematics are less locally stable while turning than walking in a straight line and may be used as a comparative tool for determining the efficacy of therapeutic interventions for mobility-impaired populations.

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