ORLANDO, Fla. – Charla Howard, a prosthetic research associate at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, Miss., presented her research on dual-task gait analysis during the Thranhardt lecture series at the American Academy Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium, here.

“The reason we want to do this analysis is because it creates more realistic conditions in the lab or clinic,” Howard said.

The study included 21 participants, 14 transtibial and seven transfemoral, and 13 control subjects. The participants were given a written cognitive test and asked to perform several concurrent tasks, including subtracting seven from a three-digit number, spelling a five-letter word backwards and finding a color/number combination on a set of keys.  

The participants practiced each task twice while seated. They then walked on a mat while performing each of the tasks, and six valid passes were recorded for each task. An invalid pass included if the participant walked off of the mat or forgot the instructions.

Charla Howard


The researchers found that the prosthesis users had greater gait variability during dual-task walking than the controls, and the key task had the highest dual-task cost. They also noted that 68% of the prosthesis users had at least one invalid trial while completing the dual task.

“Prosthesis users walk with greater variability when they are exposed to more real life conditions,” Howard said. “The dual-task approach is useful for evaluating prosthetic gait because it allows you to safely induce those gait deviations that we are trying to look for and get at those real-world conditions.”

For more information:

Howard C. Paper TL2. Presented at: American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium. Feb. 20-23, 2013. Orlando, Fla.

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