The validation of new phase-dependent gait stability measures: A modelling approach

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Identification of individuals at risk of falling is important when designing fall prevention methods. Current measures that estimate gait stability and robustness appear limited in predicting falls in older adults. Inspired by recent findings on changes in phase-dependent local stability within a gait cycle, we devised several phase-dependent stability measures and tested for their usefulness to predict gait robustness in compass walker models. These measures are closely related to the often-employed maximum finite-time Lyapunov exponent and maximum Floquet multiplier that both assess a system's response to infinitesimal perturbations. As such, they entail linearizing the system, but this is realized in a rotating hypersurface orthogonal to the period-one solution followed by estimating the trajectory-normal divergence rate of the swing phases and the foot strikes. We correlated the measures with gait robustness, i.e. the largest perturbation a walker can handle, in two compass walker models with either point or circular feet to estimate their prediction accuracy. To also test for the dependence of the measures under state space transform, we represented the point feet walker in both Euler-Lagrange and Hamiltonian canonical form. Our simulations revealed that for most of the measures their correlation with gait robustness differs between models and between different state space forms. In particular, the latter may jeopardize many stability measures' predictive capacity for gait robustness. The only exception that consistently displayed strong correlations is the divergence of foot strike. Our results admit challenges of using phase-dependent stability measures as objective means to estimate the risk of falling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number201122
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number2
Early online date10 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors.

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


  • dynamic walking
  • fall prediction
  • gait stability
  • Lyapunov exponent
  • robustness
  • stability measure


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