An Exploratory Study Investigating the Time Duration of Slip-Induced Changes in Gait

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Virginia Tech


The biomechanics of slips are commonly studied in laboratory settings in an effort to improve the understanding of slip mechanisms for the advancement of slip and fall prevention strategies and risk assessment methods.  Prior studies have shown changes in gait after slipping, and these changes can reduce the external validity of experimental results.  As such, most researchers only slip participants one time.  The ability to slip participants more than once, after allowing gait to return to a natural baseline, would improve the experimental efficiency of these studies.  Therefore, the goal of this study was to determine the time duration of slip-induced changes in gait. The required coefficient of friction (RCOF), a parameter highly predictive of risk of slipping, was measured on thirty-one young male adults during level gait on three separate days before slipping, immediately (<10 minutes) after slipping, and either one, two, four, or six weeks later.  On average, the RCOF decreased 12% from its baseline value (0.20) after slipping, indicating the adoption of a protective gait with a decreased risk of slipping.  The RCOF data trended toward baseline values 4-6 weeks after the slip experience, but remained statistically different from baseline.  This indicates that the slip-induced gait alterations have long-lasting effects, enduring up to six weeks after the slip experience.



Biomechanics, Slips and falls, Gait adaptations, RCOF