People with diabetes display biomechanical gait alterations compared to controls and have a higher metabolic cost of walking (CoW), but it remains unknown whether differences in the vertical displacement of the body centre of mass (CoM) may play a role in this higher CoW. The aim of this study was to investigate vertical CoM displacement (and step length as a potential underpinning factor) as an explanatory factor in the previously observed increased CoW with diabetes. Thirty-one non-diabetic controls (Ctrl); 22 diabetic patients without peripheral neuropathy (DM) and 14 patients with moderate/severe Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN), underwent gait analysis using a motion analysis system and force plates while walking at a range of matched speeds between 0.6 and 1.6 m/s. Vertical displacement of the CoM was measured over the gait cycle, and was not different in either diabetes patients with or without diabetic peripheral neuropathy compared to controls across the range of matched walking speeds examined (at 1 m/s: Ctrl: 5.59 (SD: 1.6), DM: 5.41 (1.63), DPN: 4.91 (1.66) cm; p > 0.05). The DPN group displayed significantly shorter steps (at 1 m/s: Ctrl: 69, DM: 67, DPN: 64 cm; p > 0.05) and higher cadence (at 1 m/s: Ctrl: 117 (SD1.12), DM: 119 (1.08), DPN: 122 (1.25) steps per minute; p > 0.05) across all walking speeds compared to controls. The vertical CoM displacement is therefore unlikely to be a factor in itself that contributes towards the higher CoW observed recently in people with diabetic neuropathy. The higher CoW in patients with diabetes may not be explained by the CoM displacement, but rather may be more related to shorter step lengths, increased cadence and the associated increased internal work and higher muscle forces developed by walking with more flexed joints.
- Centre of mass
- Lower limbs