Brandi E. Decoux1, Christopher M. Wilburn2, Wendi H. Weimar2, Portia T. Williams3, Megan Gordon1, Bovorn Sirikul1, Sarah Price4. 1Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA. 2Auburn University, Auburn, AL. 3North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, NC. 4Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Tallahassee, FL.

BACKGROUND: The mature walking gait of healthy adults is well known to exhibit proper timing of gait events, and more recent research has found that a self-similar harmonic structure is also present wherein the temporal proportions of repetitive gait phases coincide with the golden ratio, an irrational number also known as phi (φ = 1.618034⋯). However, this phi-proportionality feature was not observed in the gait of individuals with decreased motor ability or altered anthropometric proportions. The purpose of this study was to assess whether the gait of primary school-aged children, a sub-set of humans undergoing motor ability development and physical growth, demonstrates this harmonic phi-proportionality feature. METHODS: Spatiotemporal gait parameters of 21 primary school-aged children between grades 1 and 5 (15 females, 6 males; height 1.48 ± 0.23 m; mass 40.9 ± 18.3 kg) were analyzed using a 2.55 m pressure-sensing mat where the participants walked across barefoot at a self-selected pace. Three one-sample t-tests (α =.05) were carried out to separately compare the gait cycle to stance ratio (Ratio 1: 1.615 ± 0.034), stance to swing ratio (Ratio 2: 1.640 ± 0.090), and swing to total double support ratio (Ratio 3: 1.612 ± 0.195) to the golden ratio. A within-subjects repeated measures ANOVA (α =.05) was also conducted to assess for symmetry amongst the three ratios. RESULTS: No statistically significant difference was found between the golden ratio and Ratio 1 (t(20)= -.361, p = .722), Ratio 2 (t(20)= 1.166, p = .257), or Ratio 3 (t(20)= -.139, p = .891). In addition, no statistically significant differences were found between any of the phase ratios, F(2,19)=1.526, p= .243. CONCLUSIONS: Previous research has found that artificially altering the body segment proportions of healthy adults affects the harmonic organization of gait phases. However, our findings lend support to a more recent longitudinal study which discovered that the gait phase ratios of children throughout early childhood converged towards the golden ratio as they gained more locomotor experience and transitioned from supported to independent walking. Thus, this project provides further evidence suggesting that the typical phi-proportionality of anthropometric parameters has less of an influence on gait harmony than other factors like balance, walking speed, and pathophysiology.

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