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Differential Effects of Plantar Desensitization on Locomotion Dynamics
Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology (2009)
  • Brad Manor
  • Peter Wolenski
  • Alvaro Guevaro
  • Li Li, Georgia Southern University

Reduced plantar sensation secondary to chronic diffuse polyneuropathy (PN) is believed to reduce locomotor stability, especially when walking at non-preferred speeds. However, the contribution of plantar sensation to the maintenance of locomotor stability is not entirely clear. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of acute loss of plantar sensation on the stability-related kinematic properties of walking at different speeds. Lower-extremity joint kinematics were acquired as healthy young adults walked on a treadmill at their preferred walking speed (PWS) and three predetermined speeds (0.8, 1.0, and 1.2 m/s) under both normal and desensitized conditions. Desensitization of the foot soles was induced by ice-exposure, and plantar pressure sensation was assessed by a 5.07 monofilament. The average magnitude of stride duration variability (SDvar) and lower-extremity joint angle variability (JTvar), as well as short- and long-term “finite-time” Lyapunov exponents ( Short term"finite-time" Lyapunov exponents, Long term "finite-time Lyapunov exponents ) associated with lower-extremity joint angles were computed. Ice-induced plantar desensitization led to increased short team "finite-time"Lyapunov exponents (∼40%) and long term "finite-time" Lyapunov Exponents (∼8%) values but did not affect SDvar or JTvar. Higher treadmill speed led to greater long term 'Finite-time" Lyapunov Exponents and short team "finite-time"Lyapunov exponents values, but the speed effects were not influenced by plantar desensitization.While acute loss of plantar sensation does not appear to influence the magnitude of spatial or temporal variability, it did attenuate the state-space trajectory divergence caused by stride-to-stride variability (i.e.,long term 'Finite-time" Lyapunov Exponents and short team "finite-time"Lyapunov exponents). However, as opposed to walking at PWS, otherwise healthy locomotor systems do not appear to place increased reliance on plantar sensation when walking at non-preferred treadmill speeds.

  • Locomotion,
  • Dynamics,
  • Stability,
  • Variability,
  • Lyapunov,
  • Sensory
Publication Date
Citation Information
Brad Manor, Peter Wolenski, Alvaro Guevaro, and Li Li. "Differential Effects of Plantar Desensitization on Locomotion Dynamics" Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 19.5 (2009): e320-e328.