Coordination of lower limb segments during obstacle clearance in healthy adults and pathological populations

Authors: MacLellan, Michael
Advisor: McFadyen, Bradford James
Abstract: According to the planar law of intersegmental coordination, when elevation angles of the thigh, shank, and foot are plotted for a gait cycle, they tend to create a loop which orients on a plane in 3-dimensional space. The main goal of this thesis was to use analysis techniques related to this law to gain a better understanding of how the central nervous system coordinates and implements anticipatory locomotor adjustments (ALAs) for stepping over obstacles in healthy and pathological populations. Study 1 examined general issues of normal ALAs, while study 2 related the timing and amplitude of segment motion with mechanical work by hip and knee flexor muscles. Studies 3 and 4, determined how impairments such as autosomal recessive cerebellar ataxia type-1 (ARCA-1) and a previous stroke respectively affect locomotor control. In healthy adults, phasing differences between adjacent segments were shown to be correlated to characteristics of the plane formed by the segment elevation angles and these phase differences changed systematically with increasing obstacle height. It was proposed that the CNS adjusts a basic locomotor pattern for environmental constraints by manipulating elevation angle phase differences between adjacent segments as well as elevation angle amplitudes. The follow-up study determined that as higher obstacles were cleared, leading limb thigh phase lead and trailing limb shank phase lag increased. The work done by the hip and knee flexor muscles influenced thigh elevation differently in the leading and trailing limbs and it was concluded that these muscles do not have simple specific roles in elevating and progressing the lower limb during locomotion. Instead, these muscle powers may result from elevation angle waveform control dynamics. When observing coordination in the ARCA-1 and stroke participants, plotted segmental elevation angle trajectories continued to covary on a plane. In the ARCA-1 participants, a larger phase difference between the thigh and shank segments was suggested to be a voluntary control mechanism to increase toe clearance over obstacles. In participants with a previous stroke, this phase difference was greater in the non-paretic limb which was interpreted as being necessary to elevate this limb in compensation for poor support by the paretic limb. The results of this thesis suggest mechanisms of segment elevation control to implement ALAs and highlights voluntary compensatory mechanisms in such control in pathological populations.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2011
Open Access Date: 17 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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