Internationale Zeitschrift für Physikalische Medizin und Rehabilitation

Internationale Zeitschrift für Physikalische Medizin und Rehabilitation
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ISSN: 2329-9096


Dual Task and Split-Belt Adaptation in Young Boys

Amber M Chelette, Amir Pourmoghaddam and Charles S Layne

Background: While it is thought that normal walking can operate almost completely under spinal control, adaptation to changes in the environment may require higher-level cognitive resources. In adults, the addition of a secondary task resulted in changes in the adaptation to a split-belt walking task that supported a division between spinal and supraspinal mediation of gait adaptation. However, children are still developing both physical and cognitive abilities, and may not be able to employ the same strategies as adults. Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the role of attention during adaptation to split-belt treadmill walking in young boys as well as to determine which parameters of gait adaptation require more cognitive resources than others. Methods: Using a Dual Task Model, eight boys aged 8-10 years old completed three experimental conditions. The first was an auditory attention task. The second was a split-belt walking task. In the third task, participants completed both tasks simultaneously. Gait variables double support time, step length, stance time and stride length were analyzed. Double support time and step length are presumed to be moderated by supraspinal processes and were hypothesized to be the most affected by the Dual Task condition. Results: A repeated measures ANOVA revealed that, contrary to our hypothesis, stance time and stride length both increased with the addition of the attention task, whereas double support time and step length were not affected. Conclusions: The results suggest that maturing children utilize different control strategies than adults for splitbelt adaptation.