Local dynamic stability during long-fatiguing walks in people with multiple sclerosis

I. Arpan, P. C. Fino, Brett Fling, F. Horak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Altered balance/stability during walking is common in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). While dynamic gait stability has been related to falling and localized muscle fatigue, it has rarely been studied in MS. Specifically, the effects of walking-related fatigue on dynamic stability are unclear in PwMS. Research questions: 1) Are temporal changes in dynamic stability during long-walks different among PwMS and healthy controls (HC)? 2) Is there a relationship between stability and walking performance changes in PwMS? Methods: Twenty-five PwMS and ten HC participated in the six-minute walk test (6MWT) wearing six-wireless inertial sensors. Local dynamic stability (LDS) during gait was quantified by maximum-finite-time Lyapunov exponents (λS), where larger λS indicates less stable dynamics. Linear mixed models were fit to compare changes in LDS and walking performance over time among two groups. Additionally, the percent changes in λS and distance from minute 1 to 6 were recorded as Dynamic Stability Index (DSI6-1) and Distance-Walked Index (DWI6-1) respectively. Finally, Pearson correlation compared the association between DSI6-1 and DWI6-1. Results: A significant group*time interaction was found for LDS. PwMS did not have different LDS than HC until minute-4 of walking, and differences persisted at minute-6. Further, PwMS walked significantly shorter distances and demonstrated a greater decline in walking performance (DWI6-1) during the 6MWT. Finally, DSI6-1 and DWI6-1 were significantly correlated in PwMS. Significance The dynamic stability differences among PwMS and HC were only apparent after 3-minutes of walking and ∼60% of PwMS became less stable over time, supporting the use of long walks in MS to capture stability changes during the motor task performance. A significant relationship between the decline in stability and poor walking performance over time during the 6MWT suggested a possible role of walking-related fatigue in the worsening of balance during long walks in PwMS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-127
Number of pages6
JournalGait and Posture
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Local dynamic stability
  • Motor fatigue
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Six-minute walk test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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