Modular reorganization of gait in chronic but not in artificial knee joint constraint

Carlos Cruz-Montecinos, Sofía Pérez-Alenda, Mauricio Cerda, Huub Maas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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It is currently unknown if modular reorganization does occur if not the central nervous system, but the musculoskeletal system is affected. The aims of this study were to investigate 1) the effects of an artificial knee joint constraint on the modular organization of gait in healthy subjects; and 2) the differences in modular organization between healthy subjects with an artificial knee joint constraint and people with a similar but chronic knee joint constraint. Eleven healthy subjects and eight people with a chronic knee joint constraint walked overground at 1 m/s. The healthy subjects also walked with a constraint limiting knee joint movement to 20_. The total variance accounted (tVAF) for one to four synergies and modular organization were assessed using surface electromyography from 11 leg muscles. The distribution of number of synergies were not significantly different between groups. The tVAF and the motor modules were not significantly affected by the artificial knee constraint. A higher tVAF for one and two synergies, as well as merging of motor modules were observed in the chronic knee constraint group. We conclude that in the short-term a knee constraint does not affect the modular organization of gait, but in the long-term a knee constraint results in modular reorganization. These results indicate that merging of motor modules may also occur when changes in the mechanics of the musculoskeletal system is the primary cause of the motor impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-531
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number2
Early online date4 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge partial financial support from the Chilean National Agency for Research and Development (ANID) projects ICN09_015, PIA ACT192015, FONDECYT 1211988, 1190806, and FONDEF ID20I10371.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 the American Physiological Society.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Gait analysis
  • Knee joint
  • Lower limb kinematics
  • Motor control
  • Muscle synergy


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