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The Effects of Word Length, Articulation, Oral-motor Movement, and Lexicality on Gait: A Pilot Study

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Gait & Posture

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Previous research has suggested that articulatory demands are important predictors of the impact of dual-task interference on spatial-temporal parameters of gait. In this study, we evaluated the effects of word length, oral-motor movement, articulation, and lexicality, within a verbal task, on a continuous gait task. Fifteen healthy young women participated in a study in which two word lengths (monosyllabic and bisyllabic) were crossed with four levels of secondary task complexity (no dual-task, non-speech movement, spoken non-word, and spoken word). Spatial and temporal parameters of gait were measured using a 23' instrumented carpet. Results indicated a significant multivariate main effect for task type, F(15, 120)=3.07, that explained 71.1% of the demonstrated variability in gait. Univariate analyses of this main effect revealed statistically significant effects for velocity, step time, swing time, and stance time, but no statistically significant effect for step length. Post hoc analyses suggested that dual-task interference produced significant changes in the parameters of gait, but that this interference was not significantly greater with non-words as compared to the non-speech movement condition, nor was it significantly greater with words as compared to non-words. The results of this systematic deconstruction of a simple verbal task suggest that the motor component of a secondary speech task may produce the largest amount of interference within a dual-task interference paradigm.

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