May 2020

Starting with gait retraining: an analysis of changes in impact over time

Figure 1. A subject running indoors at 11.5 km/h while wearing an interactive biofeedback system. The music-based biofeedback was played through a headphone.

By the Biomechanics of Human Movement research group of Ghent University

The repetitive impact that is experienced upon collision with the ground may be related to running injuries but is modifiable. Lower-impact running can be achieved by receiving biofeedback in response to the peak tibial acceleration, but when are runners adapting to lower-impact running? Ten runners with high impact, herein defined as the peak tibial acceleration, ran 25 minutes on an athletic track in the Flanders Sports Arena. They were equipped with a wearable biofeedback system that accurately measures, monitors, and sonifies the impact in real-time. The system consists of 2 lightweight accelerometers, which attach to each leg of the runner, and an application hidden in a backpack for the provision of perceivable music-based biofeedback.

A change-point analysis was used to detect any change in impact (see Figure 2). No changes occurred whilst running without the biofeedback. The impact changed in the biofeedback condition. The major change was a reduction in impact, which occurred after almost 700 strides or after about 8 minutes. However, the time needed to achieve the major reduction varied considerably between the runners.

The simple analysis tool can aid physicians seeking to determine the timing effects of gait retraining by means of biofeedback on impact loading. Because of the rather quick response to the gait retraining due to a strong sensorimotor coupling, Pieter Van den Berghe PhD and colleagues want to highlight the potential of an autonomous biofeedback system that provides real-time and auditory feedback for lower-impact running.

The Biomechanics of Human Movement research group focuses on understanding the neuromechanical interaction of the moving body and the environment to answer questions related to the optimization of learning processes, sports performance, and musculoskeletal loading. A research project focusing on overground running retraining by means of auditory biofeedback was initiated together with the institute for systematic musicology IPEM.

Source:  Van den Berghe P, Gosseries M, Gerlo J, Lenoir M, Leman M, De Clercq D. Change-point detection of peak tibial acceleration in overground running retraining. Sensors. 2020;20(6):1720.

Figure 2. The temporal evolution in axial peak tibial acceleration of a participant. More details are given in the article published in Sensors’ special issue, Sensors for Biomechanics Application.

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