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Spatiotemporal characteristics of locomotor adaptation of walking with two handheld poles

Abstract

Pole walking (PW) has received attention not only as a whole-body exercise that can be adapted for elderly people with poor physical fitness but also as a possible intervention for the restoration of gait function in normal walking without the use of poles (i.e., conventional walking CW). However, the characteristics of PW, especially how and why PW training affects CW, remain unclear. The purpose of this study was to examine the characteristics of locomotor adaptation in PW from the perspective of kinematic variables. For this purpose, we compared the locomotor adaptation in PW and CW to that when walking on a split-belt treadmill in terms of spatial and temporal coordination. The result showed that adaptations to the split-belt treadmill in PW and CW were found only in interlimb parameters (step length and double support time ratios (fast/slow limb)), not in intralimb parameters (stride length and stance time ratios). In these interlimb parameters, the movement patterns acquired through split-belt locomotor adaptations (i.e., the aftereffects) were transferred between CW and PW regardless of whether the novel movement patterns were learned in CW or PW. The aftereffects of double support time and step length learned in CW were completely washed out by the subsequent execution in PW. On the other hand, the aftereffect of double support time learned in PW was not completely washed out by the subsequent execution in CW, whereas the aftereffect of step length learned in PW was completely washed out by the subsequent execution in CW. These results suggest that the neural mechanisms related to controlling interlimb parameters are shared between CW and PW, and it is possible that, in interlimb coordination, temporal coordination is preferentially stored in adaptation during PW.

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Correspondence to Hiroki Obata.

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Communicated by Francesco Lacquaniti.

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Obata, H., Ogawa, T., Yokoyama, H. et al. Spatiotemporal characteristics of locomotor adaptation of walking with two handheld poles. Exp Brain Res 238, 2973–2982 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-020-05954-0

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Keywords

  • Walking adaptation
  • Locomotion
  • Motor learning
  • Pole walking