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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



INTRODUCTION: Sensory systems within the head provide us with rich perceptual information and may require complex control of the head during locomotion when changing direction. Head position in space is maintained by head on trunk motion as well as lower extremity kinematic modifications, such as increased knee flexion and increased stance time in order to facilitate shock attenuation and reduce vertical CoM displacement. It has been established that the body organizes its degrees of freedom of the trunk, pelvis and lower extremities differently during anticipated and unanticipated sidestepping, which raises the question of how these modifications affect head control during change of direction tasks.

METHODS: Fourteen collegiate soccer players performed 7 anticipated and 7 unanticipated sidestepping tasks. Kinematic data were recorded using an 11-camera motion capture system (Qualysis, Inc., Gothenburg, Sweden) sampling at 240 Hz. Head and trunk orientation was quantified at penultimate toe off. A modified vector coding analysis was used to quantify the coordination and coordination variability between the head and trunk during the anticipated and unanticipated side-stepping trials. Differences in head-trunk orientation and coordination pattern frequencies were assessed with a paired t-test with an . One-dimensional statistical parametric mapping (SPM1D) was used to compare coordination variability waveforms.

RESULTS: The head (p < 0.01, ES = 0.82) and trunk (p < 0.05, ES = 0.59) were significantly more oriented toward the new travel direction during anticipated compared to unanticipated sidestepping. No significant differences in transverse or sagittal plane coordination were observed throughout the change of direction stride. However, during unanticipated sidestepping we observed significantly reduced in-phase head-trunk coordination during the preparatory phase in the sagittal (p = 0.04, ES = 0.63) and transverse (p = 0.02, ES = 0.73) planes but did not find differences in the stance or post-transition phases. Coordination variability did not differ between anticipated and unanticipated conditions. Irrespective of planning time, greater transverse plane coordination variability was observed during the flight phases compared to the stance phase (p < 0.01) of the change of direction stride. Sagittal plane coordination variability was significantly greater during the preparatory phase than the stance phase (p < 0.01), and stance phase coordination variability was significantly greater than post-transition phase variability (p < 0.01).

SIGNIFICANCE: Our results suggest differences in coordination between the head and trunk between anticipated and unanticipated sidestepping emerge during the preparatory phase of the change of direction stride, from penultimate step toe off to transition step heel strike. Anticipated and unanticipated sidestepping are different tasks, but individuals are consistent in the way the head-trunk coupling is controlled. Relating variability to task goals may allow for a better understanding of the beneficial aspects of variability observed at the head.


First Advisor

Richard van Emmerik

Second Advisor

Joseph Hamill

Third Advisor

Wouter Hoogkamer