Date of Award

Winter 2021


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Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Physical Education: Exercise Science


Wellness and Movement Sciences


Background: It is well documented that loaded backpacks affect the biomechanics of gait in both children and adults. Minimal information is available with regard to the effects of backpacks on the biomechanics of gait in individuals with clinical gait abnormalities, such as those seen in cerebral palsy. Healthy, non-clinical populations can be taught how to ‘imitate’ typical gait abnormalities in order to study various experimental interventions without enlisting clinical patients. The objective of this study was to determine the acute effect of backpack load on kinematics of the trunk during typical and imitated pathological gait. Methods: COVID 19 restrictions precluded the use of multiple subjects as originally planned, therefore in response to those limitations only one healthy female (25 yrs) performed two trials each of 4 gait styles (typical, crouch, toe, and jump gait), under unloaded and backpack-loaded conditions. Trials were recorded and digitized using a 12-camera motion analysis system. The loaded conditions utilized a student backpack weighted at 20% of the participant’s body weight (11.8 kg) using various sized small weights. Kinematics of the trunk including mean lateral trunk tilt, mean trunk inclination and mean anterior-posterior pelvic tilt, along with select spatio-temporal variables, were compared across loading conditions and among each gait type. Results: The kinematic variables of trunk tilt and pelvic tilt were exaggerated under the loaded conditions across pathological gait patterns. Double support time increased while single support time decreased. Significance: This case-study investigation was conducted as a hypothesis-generating study for kinematic variables of the trunk under load in populations exhibiting the studied gait patterns. The findings warrant further research in reference to load carriage parameters. Electromyographic testing may be beneficial to add to the current test battery in order to capture additional compensatory muscle actions that may contribute to overall dynamic motor control of the participant. Future research should contribute to better informed carriage practices for individuals with pathological gait patterns seen in cerebral palsy and toe walking.