Post-Stroke Adaptation of Lateral Foot Placement Coordination in Variable Environments

Andrew C. Dragunas*, Tara Cornwell, Roberto Lopez-Rosado, Keith E. Gordon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Individuals with stroke often have difficulty modulating their lateral foot placement during gait, a primary strategy for maintaining lateral stability. Our purpose was to understand how individuals with and without stroke adapt their lateral foot placement when walking in an environment that alters center of mass (COM) dynamics and the mechanical requirement to maintain lateral stability. The treadmill walking environments included: 1) a Null Field- where no forces were applied, and 2) a Damping Field- where external forces opposed lateral COM velocity. To evaluate the response to the changes in environment, we quantified the correlation between lateral COM state and lateral foot placement (FP), as well as step width mean and variability. We hypothesized the Damping Field would produce a stabilizing effect and reduce both the COM-FP correlation strength and step width compared to the Null Field. We also hypothesized that individuals with stroke would have a significantly weaker COM-FP correlation than individuals without stroke. Surprisingly, we found no differences in COM-FP correlations between the Damping and Null Fields. We also found that compared to individuals without stroke in the Null Field, individuals with stroke had weaker COM-FP correlations (Paretic < Control: p =0.001 , Non-Paretic < Control: p =0.007) and wider step widths (p =0.001). Our results suggest that there is a post-stroke shift towards a non-specific lateral stabilization strategy that relies on wide steps that are less correlated to COM dynamics than in individuals without stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9399454
Pages (from-to)731-739
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
StatePublished - 2021


  • Gait
  • foot placement
  • stability
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • General Neuroscience
  • Internal Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering


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