Everyday multitasking habits: University students seamlessly text and walk on a split-belt treadmill.

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Gait & posture, ISSN: 1879-2219, Vol: 59, Page: 168-173

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Hinton, Dorelle Clare; Cheng, Yeu-Yao; Paquette, Caroline
Elsevier BV
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology; Medicine
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article description
With increasing numbers of adults owning a cell phone, walking while texting has become common in daily life. Previous research has shown that walking is not entirely automated and when challenged with a secondary task, normal walking patterns are disrupted. This study investigated the effects of texting on the walking patterns of healthy young adults while walking on a split-belt treadmill. Following full adaptation to the split-belt treadmill, thirteen healthy adults (23±3years) walked on a tied-belt and split-belt treadmill, both with and without a simultaneous texting task. Inertial-based movement monitors recorded spatiotemporal components of gait and stability. Measures of spatial and temporal gait symmetry were calculated to compare gait patterns between treadmill (tied-belt and split-belt) and between texting (absent or present) conditions. Typing speed and accuracy were recorded to monitor texting performance. Similar to previous research, the split-belt treadmill caused an alteration to both spatial and temporal aspects of gait, but not to time spent in dual support or stability. However, all participants successfully maintained balance while walking and were able to perform the texting task with no significant change to accuracy or speed on either treadmill. From this paradigm it is evident that when university students are challenged to text while walking on either a tied-belt or split-belt treadmill, without any other distraction, their gait is minimally affected and they are able to maintain texting performance.