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Open Access Research article

Reliability of spatiotemporal and kinetic gait parameters determined by a new instrumented treadmill system

Lloyd F Reed12*, Stephen R Urry12 and Scott C Wearing34

Author Affiliations

1 School of Clinical Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, 4059 Queensland, Australia

2 Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, 60 Musk Avenue, Kelvin Grove, 4059 Queensland, Australia

3 Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Gold Coast, 4229 Queensland, Australia

4 Centre of Excellence for Applied Sport Science Research, Queensland Academy of Sport, PO Box 956, Sunnybank, 4109 Queensland, Australia

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:249  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-249

Published: 21 August 2013

Abstract

Background

Despite the emerging use of treadmills integrated with pressure platforms as outcome tools in both clinical and research settings, published evidence regarding the measurement properties of these new systems is limited. This study evaluated the within– and between–day repeatability of spatial, temporal and vertical ground reaction force parameters measured by a treadmill system instrumented with a capacitance–based pressure platform.

Methods

Thirty three healthy adults (mean age, 21.5 ± 2.8 years; height, 168.4 ± 9.9 cm; and mass, 67.8 ± 18.6 kg), walked barefoot on a treadmill system (FDM–THM–S, Zebris Medical GmbH) on three separate occasions. For each testing session, participants set their preferred pace but were blinded to treadmill speed. Spatial (foot rotation, step width, stride and step length), temporal (stride and step times, duration of stance, swing and single and double support) and peak vertical ground reaction force variables were collected over a 30–second capture period, equating to an average of 52 ± 5 steps of steady–state walking. Testing was repeated one week following the initial trial and again, for a third time, 20 minutes later. Repeated measures ANOVAs within a generalized linear modelling framework were used to assess between–session differences in gait parameters. Agreement between gait parameters measured within the same day (session 2 and 3) and between days (session 1 and 2; 1 and 3) were evaluated using the 95% repeatability coefficient.

Results

There were statistically significant differences in the majority (14/16) of temporal, spatial and kinetic gait parameters over the three test sessions (P < .01). The minimum change that could be detected with 95% confidence ranged between 3% and 17% for temporal parameters, 14% and 33% for spatial parameters, and 4% and 20% for kinetic parameters between days. Within–day repeatability was similar to that observed between days. Temporal and kinetic gait parameters were typically more consistent than spatial parameters. The 95% repeatability coefficient for vertical force peaks ranged between ± 53 and ± 63 N.

Conclusions

The limits of agreement in spatial parameters and ground reaction forces for the treadmill system encompass previously reported changes with neuromuscular pathology and footwear interventions. These findings provide clinicians and researchers with an indication of the repeatability and sensitivity of the Zebris treadmill system to detect changes in common spatiotemporal gait parameters and vertical ground reaction forces.

Keywords:
Gait analysis; Walking; Measurement; Repeatability; Precision; Reproducibility