The time-course characteristics of learning a lower extremity voluntary task

 Orit Elion1, Zohar Gov2, Rinat Shamay2

1 Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ariel University, Israel
2 Physiotherapy student 4th year, Department of  Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ariel University, Israel   

Introduction: Volitional movements of the lower extremity (LE) are essential for daily activities (e.g., driving). Despite its relevance, and in contrast to the upper extremity (UE), the time-course phases and transfer characteristics of the LE have not been described. The aim of this study was to characterize the phases in the acquisition and retention of a LE volitional skill.
Methods: Ten young adults, mean age 26.1 (SD = 1.97) years, participated in a single training session consisting of 130 repetitions performed in ten 20-second blocks. Their performance level, measured by the number of correct sequences and the number of errors, was tested before and immediately after the training session, as well as 24 hours and one week after the training session. Transfer of the acquired gains from the right to the left LE was tested at the same four time-points.
Results: There was a significant increase in the number of correct sequences of the right LE, (F(3,27) = 40.844, p < .0001) over the study period and a decrease in the number of errors (F(3,27) = 3.673, p = .024). The gains in the number of correct sequences were specific and did not transfer to the left LE (test*leg interaction, F(3,27) = 6.288, p = .002). There was no significant difference between legs in the number of errors (test*leg interaction, F(1.435,12.919) = 1.776, p = .209).
onclusions: The time-course of learning a LE volitional skill, as well as the limitation of generalizing the gains to the untrained LE are in line with previous studies of manual movement of the UE and of balance skills. The results may contribute to the optimization of training programs for individuals with LE impairments (e.g., stroke).
עבור לתוכן העמוד