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Alterations in gait speed and age do not fully explain the changes in gait mechanics associated with healthy older women

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Lisa AlcockORCiD


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Older adults exhibit modified gait patterns compared to the young, adopting movement strategies in response to changes in musculoskeletal function. Investigating the functional mobility of older women is particularly important because of their increased life expectancy and greater falls risk compared to men. We explored the relationships between gait parameters and age in healthy older women whilst accounting for declining gait speeds. Kinematic and kinetic data were collected from thirty-nine women (60–83 years) whilst walking at a comfortable cadence. Regression analysis assessed the capacity of gait speed and age to explain the variance in gait associated with older age. Speed explained the majority of variance in many gait parameters. By including age in the regression, the total explained variance (R2) for foot clearance (70%), ankle plantarflexion angle (30%), peak ankle plantarflexor moment (58%), and hip power generation (56%) were significantly (p < 0.05) greater than for speed alone. Nonetheless, changes in speed and age did not fully explain the variance in gait mechanics associated with older age and other contributing factors must exist. Losses of 1.2%/year in gait speed were predicted by age, exceeding previous predictions of −0.7%/year. Furthermore, the accumulation of apparently small decreases of 0.2 cm/year in peak foot-to-ground clearance has clinical implications and offers insight into the mechanisms by which gait becomes hazardous in older age.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Alcock L, Vanicek N, O'Brien TD

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Gait & Posture

Year: 2013

Volume: 37

Issue: 4

Pages: 586-592

Print publication date: 01/11/2012

ISSN (print): 0966-6362

ISSN (electronic): 1879-2219

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2012.09.023


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