Evaluation of Gait and Slip Characteristics for Adults with Mental Retardation
Haynes, Courtney Ann
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Adults with mental retardation (MR) experience a greater number of falls than their non-disabled peers. To date, efforts to understand the causes for these falls have primarily involved qualitative studies that use largely subjective measures to quantify stability. Performing a more objective biomechanical gait analysis may better explain the reasons for these fall accidents and provide repeatable measures that can be used for comparison to determine the effectiveness of interventions intended to reduce slip-related falls. A gait analysis was conducted to quantify normal walking and slip response characteristics for adults with MR as well as a group of non-disabled age- and gender-matched peers. Kinetic and kinematic data were collected and a number of variables relating to gait pattern, slip propensity, and slip severity were calculated to compare the differences between groups. Results showed that adults with MR exhibit slower walking speeds, shorter step lengths, and greater knee flexion at heel contact suggesting that their gait patterns share more similarities with the elderly than with healthy adults of an equivalent age. Unexpectedly, the MR group demonstrated a lower required coefficient of friction (RCOF) and slower heel contact velocity which, alone, would suggest a reduced slip propensity as compared with the healthy group. A greater peak sliding heel velocity and greater slip distance measures, however, indicate greater slip severity for the MR group. The findings of this study suggest that falls in this population may be attributed to delayed response to slip perturbation as measured by slip distances.
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