An Analysis of the Relationship Between Complexity and Gait Adaptability
Kiriella, Jeevaka Bandara
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The presented sequence of studies considers theoretical applications from Complexity Science and Chaos Theory for gait time-series analysis. The main goal of this research is to build on insights from a previous body of knowledge, which have identified measures derived from Complexity Science and Chaos Theory as critical markers of gait control. Specifically, the studies presented in this dissertation attempt to directly test whether characterizing gait complexity relates to an ability to flexibly adjust gait. The broader impact of this research is utilizing measures of complexity to characterize gait control, and as a tool for rehabilitation which have both gained momentum in fall prevention research. Through a series of four studies, this dissertation was designed to test the theoretical viewpoint that complexity is related to gait control, particularly gait adaptability. Firstly, I sought to develop a paradigm for reliably entraining gait complexity with the use of several auditory fluctuating timing imperatives which, differed based on specified fractal characteristics. I also sought to quantify the duration of the retention of gait complexity, following entrainment. Thirdly, I assessed whether attentional demands required during entrainment were affected by the fractal characteristics of a fluctuating timing imperative. Lastly, I applied the developed paradigm to evaluate the theoretical relationship between gait complexity and stepping performance. The findings from this dissertation have developed a framework for assessing gait control. This series of projects has determined that a fluctuating timing imperative can reliably prescribe the gait pattern of healthy individuals towards a particular complexity. The use of a fluctuating timing imperative leads to entrainment of the stimulus complexity. Furthermore, once the timing imperative has ceased, there is a brief period of complexity retention in the walking pattern. This dissertation has also confirmed that entraining complexity to a fluctuating timing imperative does not alter the attentional demands associated with entrainment. However, entraining gait to fluctuating timing imperatives of different complexities alters the stepping strategy that is adopted. Lastly, this dissertation has shown that synchronizing gait to a fixed-interval stimulus following entrainment, depends on the complexities of the gait pattern.