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Age-related differences in stair descent balance control: Are women more prone to falls than men?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Javad SarvestanORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Stair descent is one of the most common forms of daily locomotion and concurrently one of the most challenging and hazardous daily activities performed by older adults. Thus, sufficient attention should be devoted to this locomotion and to the factors that affect it. This study investigates gender and age-related differences in balance control during and after stair descent on a foam mat. Forty-seven older adults (70% women) and 38 young adults (58% women) performed a descent from one step onto a foam mat. Anteroposterior (AP) and mediolateral (ML) centre of pressure velocity (CoP) and standard deviation of the CoP sway were investigated during stair descent and restabilization. A two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed the main effects of age for the first 5 s of restabilization. Older women exhibited significantly higher values of CoP sway and velocity in both directions compared to the younger individuals (CoP SD AP5 , 55%; CoP SD ML5 , 30%; CoP V AP5 , 106%; CoP V ML5 , 75%). Men achieved significantly higher values of CoP sway and velocity only in the AP direction compared to their younger counterparts (CoP SD AP5 , 50% and CoP V AP5 , 79%). These findings suggest that with advancing age, men are at higher risk of forward falls, whereas women are at higher risk of forward and sideways falls.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kováciková Z, Sarvestan J, Zemková E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLOS ONE

Year: 2021

Volume: 16

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 07/01/2021

Acceptance date: 16/12/2020

Date deposited: 17/10/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0244990


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