Volume 50 Number 9, 2013
Pages 1187 — 1200
Abstract — Studies in arm motor adaptation suggest that introducing small errors during the adaptation period may lead to a longer retention of the aftereffect than introducing large errors. However, it is unclear whether this notion can be generalized to locomotor adaptation in patients with incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI). We hypothesized that a smaller error size may lead to longer retention of the aftereffect in patients with SCI. We recruited 12 subjects with incomplete SCI for this study. They were instructed to walk on a treadmill while light-, medium-, and heavy-resistance loads were applied to the right ankle to perturb leg swing. Each of the three resistance-load conditions were specific to the subject and determined by each subject's maximum voluntary contraction of the hip flexors. We observed that subjects tended to make larger errors when the resistance-load condition was greater. Following resistance load release, subjects showed an aftereffect consisting of an increase in stride length. Further, the aftereffect was retained longer in the medium-resistance load condition than in the heavy- and light-resistance load conditions. This finding suggests that a patient-specific resistance load may be needed to facilitate retention of locomotor adaptation in patients with incomplete SCI.
Key words: aftereffect, error size, locomotion, motor adaptation, motor learning, resistance load, retention, spinal cord injury, stride length, treadmill.
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Last Reviewed or Updated Thursday, January 9, 2014 11:57 AM