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Sci Rep. 2019 Dec 5;9(1):18392. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-54605-0.

The walking speed-dependency of gait variability in bilateral vestibulopathy and its association with clinical tests of vestibular function.

Author information

1
Department of Nutrition and Movement Sciences, NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, The Netherlands. chris.mccrum@maastrichtuniversity.nl.
2
Institute of Movement and Sport Gerontology, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany. chris.mccrum@maastrichtuniversity.nl.
3
Division of Balance Disorders, Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
4
Faculty of Physics, Tomsk State University, Tomsk, Russian Federation.
5
Department of Nutrition and Movement Sciences, NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, Maastricht University Medical Centre+, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
6
Service of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland.
7
Sport and Exercise Science Research Centre, School of Applied Sciences, London South Bank University, London, UK.

Abstract

Understanding balance and gait deficits in vestibulopathy may help improve clinical care and our knowledge of the vestibular contributions to balance. Here, we examined walking speed effects on gait variability in healthy adults and in adults with bilateral vestibulopathy (BVP). Forty-four people with BVP, 12 healthy young adults and 12 healthy older adults walked at 0.4 m/s to 1.6 m/s in 0.2 m/s increments on a dual belt, instrumented treadmill. Using motion capture and kinematic data, the means and coefficients of variation for step length, time, width and double support time were calculated. The BVP group also completed a video head impulse test and examinations of ocular and cervical vestibular evoked myogenic potentials and dynamic visual acuity. Walking speed significantly affected all gait parameters. Step length variability at slower speeds and step width variability at faster speeds were the most distinguishing parameters between the healthy participants and people with BVP, and among people with BVP with different locomotor capacities. Step width variability, specifically, indicated an apparent persistent importance of vestibular function at increasing speeds. Gait variability was not associated with the clinical vestibular tests. Our results indicate that gait variability at multiple walking speeds has potential as an assessment tool for vestibular interventions.

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