Gait variability and motor control in people with knee osteoarthritis

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Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a common disease that impairs walking ability and function. We compared the temporal gait variability and motor control in people with knee OA with healthy controls. The purpose was to test the hypothesis that the temporal gait variability would reflect a more stereotypic pattern in people with knee OA compared with healthy age-matched subjects. To assess the gait variability the temporal structure of the ankle and knee joint kinematics was quantified by the largest Lyapunov exponent and the stride time fluctuations were quantified by sample entropy and detrended fluctuation analysis. The motor control was assessed by the soleus (SO) Hoffmann (H)-reflex modulation and muscle co-activation during walking. The results showed no statistically significant mean group differences in any of the gait variability measures or muscle co-activation levels. The SO H-reflex amplitude was significantly higher in the knee OA group around heel strike when compared with the controls. The mean group difference in the H-reflex in the initial part of the stance phase (control-knee OA) was -6.6% Mmax (95% CI: -10.4 to -2.7, p=0.041). The present OA group reported relatively small impact of their disease. These results suggest that the OA group in general sustained a normal gait pattern with natural variability but with suggestions of facilitated SO H-reflex in the swing to stance phase transition. We speculate that the difference in SO H-reflex modulation reflects that the OA group increased the excitability of the soleus stretch reflex as a preparatory mechanism to avoid sudden collapse of the knee joint which is not uncommon in knee OA.

TidsskriftGait & Posture
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)479-84
Antal sider6
StatusUdgivet - 7 aug. 2015

ID: 143317370