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      Gait Pattern Alterations during Walking, Texting and Walking and Texting during Cognitively Distractive Tasks while Negotiating Common Pedestrian Obstacles


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          Mobile phone texting is a common daily occurrence with a paucity of research examining corresponding gait characteristics. To date, most studies have participants walk in a straight line vs. overcoming barriers and obstacles that occur during regular walking. The aim of our study is to examine the effect of mobile phone texting during periods of cognitive distraction while walking and negotiating barriers synonymous with pedestrian traffic.


          Thirty participants (18-50y) completed three randomized, counter-balanced walking tasks over a course during: (1) normal walking (control), (2) texting and walking, and (3) texting and walking whilst being cognitively distraction via a standard mathematical test performed while negotiating the obstacle course. We analyzed gait characteristics during course negotiation using a 3-dimensional motion analysis system and a general linear model and Dunnet-Hsu post-hoc procedure the normal walking condition to assess gait characteristic differences. Primary outcomes included the overall time to complete the course time and barrier contact. Secondary outcomes included obstacle clearance height, step frequency, step time, double support phase and lateral deviation.


          Participants took significantly longer (mean ± SD) to complete the course while texting (24.96±4.20 sec) and during cognitive distraction COG (24.09±3.36 sec) vs. normal walking (19.32±2.28 sec; all, P<0.001). No significant differences were noted for barrier contacts (P = 0.28). Step frequency, step time, double support phase and lateral deviation all increased in duration during the texting and cognitive distraction trial. Texting and being cognitively distracted also increased obstacle clearance versus the walking condition ( all, P<0.02).


          Texting while walking and/or being cognitively distracted significantly affect gait characteristics concordant to mobile phone usage resulting in a more cautious gate pattern. Future research should also examine a similar study in older participants who may be at a greater risk of tripping with such walking deviations.

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          Revision of the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q).

          The original Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) offers a safe preliminary screening of candidates for exercise testing and prescription, but it screens out what seems an excessive proportion of apparently healthy older adults. To reduce unnecessary exclusions, an expert committee established by Fitness Canada has now revised the questionnaire wording. The present study compares responses to the original and the revised PAR-Q questionnaire in 399 men and women attending 40 accredited fitness testing centres across Canada. The number of subjects screened out by the revised test decreased significantly (p < .05), from 68 to 48 of the 399 subjects. The change reflects in part the inclusion of individuals who had made an erroneous positive response to the original question regarding high blood pressure. There is no simple gold standard to provide an objective evaluation of the sensitivity and specificity of either questionnaire format, but the revised wording has apparently had the intended effect of reducing positive responses, particularly to the question regarding an elevation of blood pressure.
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            Two simple methods for determining gait events during treadmill and overground walking using kinematic data.

            The determination of gait events such as heel strike and toe-off provide the basis for defining stance and swing phases of gait cycles. Two algorithms for determining event times for treadmill and overground walking based solely on kinematic data are presented. Kinematic data from treadmill walking trials lasting 20-45s were collected from three subject populations (healthy young, n=7; multiple sclerosis, n=7; stroke, n=4). Overground walking trials consisted of approximately eight successful passes over two force plates for a healthy subject population (n=5). Time of heel strike and toe-off were determined using the two new computational techniques and compared to events detected using vertical ground reaction force (GRF) as a gold standard. The two algorithms determined 94% of the treadmill events from healthy subjects within one frame (0.0167s) of the GRF events. In the impaired populations, 89% of treadmill events were within two frames (0.0334s) of the GRF events. For overground trials, 98% of events were within two frames. Automatic event detection from the two kinematic-based algorithms will aid researchers by accurately determining gait events during the analysis of treadmill and overground walking.
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              Driven to Distraction: Dual-Task Studies of Simulated Driving and Conversing on a Cellular Telephone

              Dual-task studies assessed the effects of cellular-phone conversations on performance of a simulated driving task. Performance was not disrupted by listening to radio broadcasts or listening to a book on tape. Nor was it disrupted by a continuous shadowing task using a handheld phone, ruling out, in this case, dual-task interpretations associated with holding the phone, listening, or speaking, However significant interference was observed in a word-generation variant of the shadowing task, and this deficit increased with the difficulty of driving. Moreover unconstrained conversations using either a handheld or a hands-free cell phone resulted in a twofold increase in the failure to detect simulated traffic signals and slower reactions to those signals that were detected. We suggest that cellular-phone use disrupts performance by diverting attention to an engaging cognitive context other than the one immediately associated with driving.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                29 July 2015
                : 10
                : 7
                [1 ]The University of Bath, Department for Health, Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
                [2 ]Texas A&M University, Department of Health & Kinesiology, College Station, Texas, United States of America
                Ludwig-Maximilian University, GERMANY
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: SL RS MPM CPE. Performed the experiments: SL RS. Analyzed the data: SL RS CPE. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: SL RS MPM. Wrote the paper: SL RS CPE.


                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 2, Pages: 11
                Funding for this project was obtained from internal monies within the Dept. of Health
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files



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