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Gait Posture. 2013 Sep;38(4):907-11. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2013.04.019. Epub 2013 May 21.

Gradual training reduces the challenge to lateral balance control during practice and subsequent performance of a novel locomotor task.

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  • 1Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence for Limb Loss Prevention and Prosthetic Engineering, Seattle, WA 98108, United States; Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, United States; Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, United States.


Locomotor balance control mechanisms and impairments have been well described in the literature. In contrast, the role of evidence-based motor learning strategies in the recovery or restoration of locomotor balance control has received much less attention. Little is known about the efficacy of motor learning strategies to improve locomotor tasks and their unique requirements, such as lateral balance control. This study examined whether gradual versus sudden training influenced lateral balance control among unimpaired adults (n=16) during training and 24-h transfer performance of a novel locomotor task. This was accomplished by examining the variability of whole-body frontal plane kinematics throughout training and 24-h transfer performance of asymmetric split-belt treadmill walking. Compared to sudden training, gradual training significantly reduced the challenge to lateral balance control (exhibited by a reduction in frontal plane kinematic variability) during training and during subsequent transfer task performance. These results indicate that gradual training could play an important role in restoring locomotor balance control during physical rehabilitation.


Gait; Learning; Rehabilitation; Stability; Variability

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