To walk efficiently and stably on different surfaces under various constrained conditions, humans need to adapt their gait pattern substantially. Although the mechanisms behind locomotor adaptation are still not fully understood, the cerebellum is thought to play an important role. In this study we aimed to address the specific localization of cerebellar involvement in split-belt adaptation by comparing performance in patients with stable focal lesions after cerebellar tumor resection and in healthy controls. We observed that changes in symmetry of those parameters that were most closely related to interlimb coordination (such as step length and relative double stance time) were similar between healthy controls and cerebellar patients during and after split-belt walking. In contrast, relative stance times (proportions of stance in the gait cycle) were more asymmetric for the patient group than for the control group during the early phase of the post-split-belt condition. Patients who walked with more asymmetric relative stance times were more likely to demonstrate lesions in vermal lobules VI and Crus II. These results confirm that deficits in gait adaptation vary with ataxia severity and between patients with different types of cerebellar damage.
Keywords: ataxia; cerebellum; gait; locomotion; step length symmetry.
Copyright © 2015 the American Physiological Society.