Does Altering Compliance of a Load Carriage Device in the Medial-Lateral Direction Reduce Peak Forces While Walking?

Research Paper Title

Altering Compliance of a Load Carriage Device in the Medial-Lateral Direction Reduces Peak Forces While Walking.

Background

Altering mechanical compliance in load carriage structures has shown to reduce metabolic cost and accelerative forces of carrying weight.

Currently, modifications to load carriage structures have been primarily targeted at vertical motion of the carried mass.

No study to date has investigated altering load carriage compliance in the medial-lateral direction.

Methods

The researchers developed a backpack specifically for allowing a carried mass to oscillate in the horizontal direction, giving us the unique opportunity to understand the effects of lateral mass motion on human gait.

Previous modelling work has shown that walking economy can be improved through the interaction of a bipedal model with a laterally oscillating walking surface.

To test whether a laterally oscillating mass can experimentally improve walking economy, they systematically varied step width above and below the preferred level and compared the effects of carrying an oscillating and fixed mass.

Results

Walking with an oscillating mass was found to reduce the accelerative forces of load carriage in both horizontal and vertical directions.

However, load eccentricity caused the vertical force component to create a significant bending moment in the frontal plane.

Walking with an oscillating mass led to an increase in the metabolic energy expenditure during walking and an increase in positive hip work during stance.

Conclusions

The device’s ability to reduce forces experienced by the user, due to load carriage, holds promise.

However, the requirement of additional metabolic energy to walk with the device requires future study to improve.

Reference

Martin, J.P. & Li, Q. (2018) Altering Compliance of a Load Carriage Device in the Medial-Lateral Direction Reduces Peak Forces While Walking. Scientific Reports. 8(1):13775. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-32175-x.

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