Reduced forward propulsion during gait, measured as the anterior component of the ground reaction force (AGRF), may contribute to slower walking speeds in older adults and gait dysfunction in individuals with neurological impairments. Trailing limb angle (TLA) is a clinically important gait parameter that is associated with AGRF generation. Real-time gait biofeedback can induce modifications in targeted gait parameters, with potential to modulate AGRF and TLA. However, the effects of real-time TLA biofeedback on gait biomechanics have not been studied thus far.
What are the effects of unilateral, real-time, audiovisual trailing limb angle biofeedback on gait biomechanics in able-bodied individuals?
Ten able-bodied adults participated in one session of treadmill-based gait analyses comprising 60-second walking trials under three conditions: no biofeedback, AGRF biofeedback, and TLA biofeedback. Biofeedback was provided unilaterally to the right leg. Dependent variables included AGRF, TLA, ankle moment, and ankle power. One-way repeated measures ANOVA with post-hoc tests were conducted to determine the effect of the biofeedback conditions on gait parameters.
Compared to no biofeedback, both AGRF and TLA biofeedback induced significant increases in targeted leg AGRF without concomitant changes to the non-targeted leg AGRF. Targeted leg TLA was significantly larger during TLA biofeedback compared to AGRF biofeedback. Only AGRF biofeedback induced significant increases in ankle power; and only the TLA biofeedback condition induced increases in the non-targeted leg TLA.
Our novel findings provide support for the feasibility and promise of TLA as a gait biofeedback target. Our study demonstrates that comparable magnitudes of feedback-induced increases in AGRF in response to AGRF and TLA biofeedback may be achieved through divergent biomechanical strategies. Further investigation is needed to uncover the effects of TLA biofeedback on gait parameters in individuals with neuro-pathologies such as spinal cord injury or stroke.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.