People make anticipatory changes in gait patterns prior to initiating a rapid change of direction. How they prepare will change based on their knowledge of the maneuver. To investigate specific and general strategies used to facilitate locomotor maneuvers, we manipulated subjects' ability to anticipate the direction of an upcoming lateral "lane-change" maneuver. To examine specific anticipatory adjustments, we observed the four steps immediately preceding a maneuver that subjects were instructed to perform at a known time in a known direction. We hypothesized that to facilitate a specific change of direction, subjects would proactively decrease margin of stability in the future direction of travel. Our results support this hypothesis: subjects significantly decreased lateral margin of stability by 69% on the side ipsilateral to the maneuver during only the step immediately preceding the maneuver. This gait adaptation may have improved energetic efficiency and simplified the control of the maneuver. To examine general anticipatory adjustments, we observed the two steps immediately preceding the instant when subjects received information about the direction of the maneuver. When the maneuver direction was unknown, we hypothesized that subjects would make general anticipatory adjustments that would improve their ability to actively initiate a maneuver in multiple directions. This second hypothesis was partially supported as subjects increased step width and stance phase hip flexion during these anticipatory steps. These modifications may have improved subjects' ability to generate forces in multiple directions and maintain equilibrium during the onset and execution of the rapid maneuver. However, adapting these general anticipatory strategies likely incurred an additional energetic cost.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology