The effects of sensory loss and walking speed on the orbital dynamic stability of human walking

Jonathan B. Dingwell, Hyun Gu Kang, Laura C. Marin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Peripheral sensory feedback is believed to contribute significantly to maintaining walking stability. Patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy have a greatly increased risk of falling. Previously, we demonstrated that slower walking speeds in neuropathic patients lead to improved local dynamic stability. However, all subjects exhibited significant local instability during walking, even though no subject fell or stumbled during testing. The present study was conducted to determine if and how significant changes in peripheral sensation and walking speed affect orbital stability during walking. Trunk and lower extremity kinematics were examined from two prior experiments that compared patients with significant neuropathy to healthy controls and walking at multiple different speeds in young healthy subjects. Maximum Floquet multipliers were computed for each time series to quantify the orbital stability of these movements. All subjects exhibited orbitally stable walking kinematics, even though these same kinematics were previously shown to be locally unstable. Differences in orbital stability between neuropathic and control subjects were small and, with the exception of knee joint movements (p = 0.001), not statistically significant (0.380≤p≤0.946). Differences in knee orbital stability were not mediated by differences in walking speed. This was supported by our finding that although orbital stability improved slightly with slower walking speeds, the correlations between walking speed and orbital stability were generally weak (r2 ≤ 16.7 %). Thus, neuropathic patients do not gain improved orbital stability as a result of slowing down and do not experience any loss of orbital stability because of their sensory deficits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1723-1730
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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