Partial body weight-supported treadmill training is an approach for gait rehabilitation. Variables such as stepping frequency and the amount of body weight support are key parameters manipulated during training. The purpose of this study was to quantify the extent to which body weight support and stride frequency contribute and interact to produce the coordination patterns of the leg muscles. Principal components analysis was used to provide insight into the interaction effects of these factors on electromyographical (EMG) activity during treadmill locomotion. Eight healthy subjects walked on a treadmill at 15 different combinations of weight support (0%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 100%), and stride frequency (0.40, 0.49, 0.57 Hz). Treadmill walking was performed with the Lokomat robotic gait orthosis to constrain leg kinematics. Surface EMG data were collected from several lower limb muscles. Results indicate that much of the variance in EMG activity during treadmill locomotion can be attributed to the mechanics of the locomotor task imposed by the level of body weight support and stride frequency. We also showed that body weight support and stride frequency interact in different ways to affect muscle coordination patterns. EMG coordination patterns are similar between conditions of high levels of body weight support and faster stride frequencies vs. lower levels of body weight support and slower stride frequency. Our data suggest that the interaction of body weight support and stride frequency should be taken into consideration for optimizing motor output during locomotor training. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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