Impaired heel to toe progression during gait is related to reduced ankle range of motion in people with Multiple Sclerosis

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Journal Article
Clinical Biomechanics, 2017, 49 pp. 96 - 100
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Background Gait impairment in people with Multiple Sclerosis results from neurological impairment, muscle weakness and reduced range of motion. Restrictions in passive ankle range of motion can result in abnormal heel-to-toe progression (weight transfer) and inefficient gait patterns in people with Multiple Sclerosis. The purpose of this study was to determine the associations between gait impairment, heel-to-toe progression and ankle range of motion in people with Multiple Sclerosis. Methods Twelve participants with Multiple Sclerosis and twelve healthy age-matched participants were assessed. Spatiotemporal parameters of gait and individual footprint data were used to investigate group differences. A pressure sensitive walkway was used to divide each footprint into three phases (contact, mid-stance, propulsive) and calculate the heel-to-toe progression during the stance phase of gait. Findings Compared to healthy controls, people with Multiple Sclerosis spent relatively less time in contact phase (7.8% vs 25.1%) and more time in the mid stance phase of gait (57.3% vs 33.7%). Inter-limb differences were observed in people with Multiple Sclerosis between the affected and non-affected sides for contact (7.8% vs 15.3%) and mid stance (57.3% and 47.1%) phases. Differences in heel-to-toe progression remained significant after adjusting for walking speed and were correlated with walking distance and ankle range of motion. Interpretation Impaired heel-to-toe progression was related to poor ankle range of motion in people with Multiple Sclerosis. Heel-to-toe progression provided a sensitive measure for assessing gait impairments that were not detectable using standard spatiotemporal gait parameters.
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