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Open data on normal human gait

In the movement laboratory at the ZHAW Institute of Physiotherapy, the normative gait data of 100 test subjects has been recorded. The data was recently published in an open access database, meaning that other researchers can also use it – for example as a benchmark with which pathological gait patterns can be compared.

What does the gait pattern of a healthy person look like? In order to answer this question and obtain data on the normal sequence of movements when walking, researchers at the Institute of Physiotherapy recorded the gait pattern of 100 test subjects. Under the leadership of the researchers Christoph Bauer and Eveline Graf, high-precision cameras and markers attached to heels, calves, thighs and pelvises were used to record the movements of study participants in the Institute’s movement laboratory. As part of this study, the participants walked at a pace of their own choosing as well as at three predefined walking paces, categorised as slow (1.25 m/s), normal (1.5 m/s) and fast (1.75 m/s).

The study participants were made up of 50 women and 50 men, with ten recruited from each of five different age groups (18–29 years old, 30–39 years old, 40–49 years old, 50–59 years old and 60–70 years old). In addition to age and sex, health-related criteria were also used to select the participants. For example, the participants had to have a body mass index of between 18 and 28 points and were not allowed to have been suffering from any acute or chronic musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary or neurological diseases.

Available for further research

Normative human gait data is used by a wide range of research disciplines, including kinesiology and physiotherapy. For example, it can be used for comparison when analysing and assessing gait disorders, such as the dragging of a foot, the inability to roll on the soles of your feet or insufficient knee flexion. The Institute of Physiotherapy makes the normative human gait data available for free use on Harvard University’s “open data” Dataverse platform. The Institute thus also participates in the swissuniversities “Open Science Initiative”, which promotes the sharing of research data (open data) and free access to publications (open access).