This study aimed to analyze the biomechanical consequences of reducing the base of support in patients with ataxia. Specifically, we evaluated the spatio-temporal parameters, upper- and lower-body kinematics, muscle co-activation, and energy recovery and expenditure. The gaits of 13 patients were recorded using a motion analysis system in unperturbed and perturbed walking conditions. In the latter condition, patients had to walk using the same step width and speed of healthy controls. The perturbed walking condition featured reduced gait speed, step length, hip and knee range of motion, and energy recovery and increased double support duration, gait variability, trunk oscillation, and ankle joint muscle co-activation. Narrowing the base of support increased gait instability (e.g., gait variability and trunk oscillations) and induced patients to further use alternative compensatory mechanisms to maintain dynamic balance at the expense of a reduced ability to recover mechanical energy. A widened step width gait is a global strategy employed by patients to increase dynamic stability, reduce the need for further compensatory mechanisms, and thus recover mechanical energy. Our findings suggest that rehabilitative treatment should more specifically focus on step width training.
Conte, C., Serrao, M., Cuius, L., Ranavolo, A., Conforto, S., Pierelli, F., et al. (2018). Effect of Restraining the Base of Support on the Other Biomechanical Features in Patients with Cerebellar Ataxia. THE CEREBELLUM, 1-12 [10.1007/s12311-017-0897-y].