It is unclear to what extent ballistic walking models can be used to qualitatively predict the swing phase at comfortable walking speed. Different study findings regarding the accuracy of the predictions of the swing phase kinematics may have been caused by differences in (1) kinematic input, (2) model characteristics (e.g. the number of segments), and (3) evaluation criteria. In the present study, the predictive validity of four ballistic swing phase models was evaluated and compared, that is, (1) the ballistic walking model as originally introduced by Mochon and McMahon, (2) an extended version of this model in which heel-off of the stance leg is added, (3) a double pendulum model, consisting of a two-segment swing leg with a prescribed hip trajectory, and (4) a shank pendulum model consisting of a shank and rigidly attached foot with a prescribed knee trajectory. The predictive validity was evaluated by comparing the outcome of the model simulations with experimentally derived swing phase kinematics of six healthy subjects. In all models, statistically significant differences were found between model output and experimental data. All models underestimated swing time and step length. In addition, statistically significant differences were found between the output of the different models. The present study shows that although qualitative similarities exist between the ballistic models and normal gait at comfortable walking speed, these models cannot adequately predict swing phase kinematics.

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Journal of Biomechanics
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

Selles, R., Bussmann, H., Wagenaar, R., & Stam, H. (2001). Comparing predictive validity of four ballistic swing phase models of human walking. Journal of Biomechanics, 34(9), 1171–1177. doi:10.1016/S0021-9290(01)00075-6