Background: Following incomplete spinal cord injury, people often move slowly in an effort to maintain stability during walking maneuvers. Here we examine how maneuver speed impacts frontal-plane stability in people with incomplete spinal cord injury. We hypothesized that the challenge to control frontal-plane stability would increase with maneuver speed; specifically, the minimum lateral margin of stability would be smaller and the required coefficient of friction to avoid a slip would be greater during fast vs. preferred speed maneuvers. Methods: We measured kinematics and ground reaction forces as 12 individuals with incomplete spinal cord injury performed side-step, lateral maneuvers at preferred and fast speeds. We examined four sequential steps: the Setup and Pushoff steps initiated the maneuver, and the Landing and Recovery steps arrested the maneuver. Findings: Our hypotheses were partially supported. Maneuver time was shorter during fast vs. preferred speed maneuvers (p = 0.003). Minimum lateral margin of stability was smaller during the Setup step of fast vs. preferred speed maneuvers (p = 0.026). We found no differences in minimum lateral margin of stability between speeds for the Landing and Recovery steps (p > 0.05). The required coefficient of friction was not different between fast and preferred speed maneuvers (p = 0.087). Interpretation: The greatest effect of increasing maneuver speed occurred during the Setup step; as speed increased, participants reduced their minimum lateral margin of stability ipsilateral to the maneuver direction. This action allowed maneuvers to be performed more quickly without requiring a greater lateral impulse during the Pushoff step. However, this strategy reduced passive stability.
- Spinal cord injury