The function of methodology to changing gravitational load during treadmill walking



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Adaption to long term sensory changes involves both the adaption of sensory receptors and the central nervous system allowing for reinterpretation of the new sensory feedback. Astronauts learn to function in microgravity after a period of adaptation during space flight. Similarly, patients with certain medical conditions can experience changing sensory input. Previous work has suggested that the pattern of leg movement and muscle electrical activity is a function of how the amount of loading is achieved in addition to the amount of body loading. The participants walked on the unloading treadmill while having electromyography (EMG) electrodes and Xsens sensors attached over muscles and body segments, respectively. One protocol consisted of reducing the participants’ weight by 20% every minute until they reached 20% of their actual weight and then increasing the weight by 20% every minute until actual weight was reached again. In another protocol, the participant underwent a similar procedure, but with a minute rest in which the treadmill was stopped between each changing weight load. Both protocols and loading and unloading conditions will be compared. This study will use statistical parametric mapping (SPM) to compare waveforms with spatiotemporal dimensionality unique to the individual. The EMG activity and the joint angles could present certain patterns at given weights depending upon the protocol used to reach that weight. This experiment could provide additional information associated with the patterns of adaptation to a changing sensory environment and could reveal how altering the protocol to reaching the same condition can impact adaptability.