Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Exercise and Sport Sciences

Major Professor

Songning Zhang

Committee Members

Clare Milner, Eugene Fitzhugh


Background. Although short-leg walkers are often used in the treatment of lower extremity injuries, little is known about the effect that the short-leg walker has on gait characteristics. The purpose of this study was to examine two different short-leg walkers and how heel height differences in the walker and shoe side may affect ground reaction forces (GRFs) and the effects of heel height modification in walker and/or shoe side on GRFs in walking.

Methods. A force platform was used to collect ground reaction force data on 10 healthy participants. Five trials in each of six conditions were performed by each participant: shoe, Gait Walker, Gait Walker with heel insert, Gait Walker modified, Equalizer, and Equalizer with heel insert.

Findings. A 2 ´ 6 (side ´ condition) analysis of variance (ANOVA) was completed on selected GRF variables (P<0.05). The application of a walker created a peak GRF prior to the normal peaks associated with the loading response in both vertical and anteroposterior GRFs. Wearing a walker introduced an elevated minimum vertical GRF in all conditions except the Equalizer Walker when compared to Shoe on the shoe side. Peak propulsive GRFs were smaller in all five walker conditions compared to Shoe on walker side.

Interpretation. The application of heel insert in Gait Walker with heel insert (on shoe side) and Gait Walker modified (on walker side) does not diminish the minimum vertical GRF as hypothesized. Wearing a walker decreases the peak propulsive GRF on the walker side and induces asymmetrical loading.

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