Texting and walking: don’t forget to self monitor

For soft science of the week, we have texting whilst walking. We know this can be bad for your health, particularly when crossing roads.

There were many similarities between pwMS and those that didn’t have MS, but there were some differences in gait too and these may involve CNS issues.

Pau M, Corona F, Pilloni G, Porta M, Coghe G, Cocco E.Texting while walking differently alters gait patterns in people with multiple sclerosis and healthy individuals.Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2017 Dec 2;19:129-133.
BACKGROUND:In recent times, increasing safety concerns have been associated with the use of mobile phones by pedestrians. In particular, texting has been shown to significantly alter gait patterns. However, no specific investigations have been performed on people with Multiple Sclerosis (pwMS), who are already characterized by gait dysfunctions caused by the disease.
OBJECTIVE:To assess the existence of possible alterations in spatio-temporal parameters of gait in pwMS when simultaneously texting on a smartphone and walking.
METHODS:Fifty-four pwMS (mean age 40.5 ± 10.5) and 40 age-matched unaffected individuals were tested in two conditions: walking, and walking while texting on a smartphone. Spatio-temporal parameters of gait were assessed using a wearable accelerometer located on the lower back.
RESULTS:Texting induces reduction of gait speed, stride length and cadence in both groups, but such changes were smaller in magnitude in pwMS. An increase of stance and double support and reduction of swing phase were observed in pwMS only.
CONCLUSIONS:Texting alters gait patterns of pwMS differently from unaffected individuals, probably due to a different prioritization of the task, which appears to take into account the motor and  sensory impairments associated with the disease by favoring the motor task.

Is this time to change the 25 metre walk to walk with a phone? 
I think not, because it adds complexity, but don’t forget to get a 9 Hole Peg test and a piece of string so you can monitor your output yourself.

Hopefully ProfG is back from his Hols refreshed and has done Highlights of the year

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  • I now have to concentrate on walking, and certainly couldn't text and walk.

    Walking is easiest when I use my rollator as I can keep my hands still and I'm bilaterally supported. I'm able to participate in a conversation when I'm walking with my rollator.

    When I use a stick I walk more slowly and find it difficult to keep the hand that's holding the stick co-ordinated with my legs. It's difficult to talk to someone and walk with a stick.

    Trying to walk without support, except for a few steps at home, results in sensory overload and fighting the panic of feeling I'm going to fall over any second.

  • Strange. But my first sign I noticed something was amiss, was my inability to do other task while walking like texting and talking on the phone. Even though these were early days before onset of MS. When I could still run fast and walk 10 kilometers without thinking about it. So may be to catch MS early?

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