Phase resetting behavior in human gait is influenced by treadmill walking speed

Jeff A. Nessler, Tavish Spargo, Andrew Craig-Jones, John G. Milton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Gait is often modeled as a limit cycle oscillator. When perturbed, this type of system will reset its output in a stereotypical manner, which may be shifted in time with respect to its original trajectory. In contrast to other biological oscillators, relatively little is known regarding the phase resetting properties for human gait. Because humans must often reset their gait in response to perturbation, an improved understanding of this behavior may have implications for reducing the risk of fall. The purpose of this study was to further evaluate phase resetting behaviors in human gait with particular emphasis on (1) variance of the phase resetting response among healthy individuals and (2) the sensitivity of this response to walking speed. Seventeen healthy subjects walked on a treadmill at 2.0. mph, 2.5. mph, and 3.0. mph while their right limb was perturbed randomly every 12-20 strides. Discrete, mechanical perturbations were applied by a rope that was attached to each subject's ankle and actuated by a motorized arm. Perturbations were applied once during a select stride, always at a different point in the swing phase, and the amount of phase shift that occurred on the subsequent stride was recorded. A subset of 8 subjects also walked at their preferred walking speed for 3 additional trials on a separate day in order to provide an estimate of within-subjects variability. The results suggested that phase resetting behavior is relatively consistent among subjects, but that minor variations in phase resetting behavior are attributable to walking at different treadmill speeds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-191
Number of pages5
JournalGait and Posture
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Falls
  • Gait
  • Phase resetting curve
  • Stumble

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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