Background: Gait initiation can be performed at a range of speeds. Those with disability tend to use a slower speed compared to those without disability. In assessing the spatiotemporal and kinematic characteristics of gait initiation it is therefore important to consider the effects of speed on outcomes. Research question: What is the effect of speed of performance on spatiotemporal and kinematic characteristics of gait initiation? Methods: Spatiotemporal and kinematic characteristics were measured across a wide range of speeds from very slow to very fast (normalised initiating leg (swing or SW limb) step speed 0.1–0.5) for 20 health adults (10 men/10 women, 22–44 years) using three-dimensional motion analysis of the first two steps of gait. Results: Mixed linear modelling of 295 walking trials indicated differences between individuals, sexes and strong non-linear relationships between normalised initiating leg step speed and cadence and step lengths (R2 > 0.5). Particular characteristics of joint kinematics (maxima and minima for both initiating (SW) and contralateral limb (stance or ST limb)) demonstrated significant non-linear (squared, cubic and power law) changes with speed. Moderate to strong relationships were identified for sagittal plane pelvis, hip and knee kinematics as well as hip adduction (0.3 < R2 < 0.7). Significance: Gait initiation spatiotemporal and kinematic characteristics were quantified across the maximum range of speeds achievable, providing comprehensive characterisation of changes with speed. Significant, non-linear changes with speed were identified, suggesting different strategies are employed to modify speed at low and high speeds. The highlighted changes with speed illustrate the importance of taking speed into account when comparing outcomes between healthy adults and those with pathology.
- Gait initiation
- Healthy adults
- Spatiotemporal characteristics