A kinematic and electromyographic comparison of lower limb muscles in over-ground, motorised and non-motorised treadmill locomotion
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The purpose of this study was to establish, whether the treadmill is an adequate tool for the assessment of human locomotion. If the treadmill is to be accepted as a useful research and clinical instrument, it must be demonstrated that it does not alter the performance of evaluated activity. With this in mind, a comparison of neuromuscular function and running pattern was achieved by studying the electromyography and kinematics of the human gait cycle in over-ground, motorised and non-motorised treadmill locomotion. Five male subjects, providing a statistical power of more than 80% performed the over-ground condition at self-selected speeds (4.14 ± 0.22 ms-1), providing a respective average speed for the non-motorised and motorised treadmill conditions. Two dimensional angular kinematic and electromyographic data were captured and subjected to repeated analysis of variance, with the application of Tukey tests and paired t-test respectively. Significant differences for hip, knee and ankle angular displacements were found between conditions, (F2,198 = 152.04, P<0.01), (F2,198 = 3.99, P<0.05) and (F2,198 = 194, P<0.01), respectively. Statistical analysis of muscle activation intensities of the vastus lateralis, bicep femoris, tibialis anterior and lateral gastrocnemius, also highlighted significant differences, (P<0.05). An aligned pattern of lower extremity kinematics between over ground and non-motorised treadmill locomotion can be concluded. Conversely, the motorised treadmill proves to be an inadequate instrument for research and clinical measurement of human locomotion, whilst highlighting the fact that both treadmills are invalid instruments for the assessment of neuromuscular function during human gait. Differences between the forms of locomotion can be attributed to systematic and subject dependant factors, it is therefore necessary for future researchers to examine the parameters of interest for differences between treadmill and over ground locomotion, in order to validate the use of the treadmill as an adequate simulator of human locomotion.
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