Motorized treadmills and weighted sleds are employed in clinical settings to improve lower extremity strength, power, and endurance. However, little is known about how the spatio-temporal parameters compare when walking on an even surface walkway, walking on a treadmill, or pushing a sled. This study aimed to examine the variations in spatial and temporal gait parameters when walking on an even surface walkway (EW), on a treadmill (TW), and while pushing a sled (SP). Forty healthy subjects participated in this pilot study. The mean age and BMI of all participants were 24.39 (± 2.86) years and 68.26 (± 13.92) kg/m^2, respectively. Spatio-temporal parameters were gathered using the Mobility Lab ADPM software and six sensors containing accelerometers and gyroscopes. Participants were directed to walk at a normal and comfortable speed for 7 m on an even surface walkway for two trials. Next, the subjects walked on the treadmill for two trials at a speed based on age. For males aged <30 and females 20-40 years of age, the speed was 1.3 m/s. While for males aged 30 or older, the speed was set to 1.4 m/s. Finally, participants were instructed to walk at their normal pace while pushing a 60 lb sled for 9.1 meters (m). Treadmill walking provoked a significant increase in temporal variables, whereas pushing a sled significantly reduced the temporal variables. Treadmill walking resulted in a decrease in double limb support time and an increase in single-limb support time compared with even surface walking. Although cadence was greater when walking on a treadmill versus an even surface walkway, the difference may be attributed to a fixed speed on the treadmill, which was determined by age. Treadmill gait training is recommended for subjects that could benefit from an increase single limb support time to improve dynamic balance such as Parkinson patients. On the other hand, for those participants that dynamic activities are challenging, such as concussion and vestibular patients, pushing the sled will slow down gait parameters allowing gait training with an added resistance benefit. Finally, it has been proposed that further investigation should focus on the differences in lower extremity muscle activation and recruitment patterns under various walking conditions.
KeywordsGait parameters Walking Treadmill
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