Step Length Asymmetry and Its Associations With Mechanical Energy Exchange, Function, and Fatigue After Total Hip ReplacementChun‐Hao Huang Kharma C Foucher
Abnormalities in gait remain after total hip replacement (THR). The purpose of this study was to evaluate step length asymmetry and its links to other aspects of gait and physical function after THR and to investigate links with mechanical energy exchange. The rationale is that step length asymmetry may influence gait efficiency, which could adversely influence fatigue and physical function. We evaluated 18 participants (6 males and 12 females) 1–5 years post‐THR. Step length symmetry and mechanical energy exchange were assessed by instrumented gait analysis. Fatigue was assessed using a PROMIS Fatigue Short Form. We assessed physical function using a 6‐minute walk test (6MWT). We used a one sample T test to determine whether the symmetry index (SI) was significantly different from 0 and Pearson’s correlations to explore associations among the variables. The step length SI was statistically significantly different from zero (p=0.01). A more symmetric step length was associated with better 6MWT (R=−0.57, p=0.03). Higher (better) mechanical energy exchange was associated with more fatigue (R=0.50, p=0.04). Mechanical energy exchange was not associated with step length SI or 6MWT. Better 6MWT was associated with less fatigue (R=−0.61, P=0.01). This suggests that the association between step length symmetry and function is not directly governed by its effect on the energy exchange. Additionally, after a relatively long period of postsurgery, participants may have adapted their gait by increasing mechanical energy exchange to minimize fatigue. Statement of Clinical Significance: A gait retraining intervention targeting step length symmetry could improve function without adversely affecting walking energetics in THR patients.