Effects of Age on Gait Parameters and Muscle Activity During Adjustment, and the Relationship of Fear of Falling
Spaulding, Jeremy Maximillian
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Previous research has shown that with advancing age, there are increasing incidences of slip and fall injuries. Understanding mechanisms associated with gait adjustments across a known slippery surface may help in proactively avoiding slips and falls. The primary goal of this study involved examination of gait parameters and muscle activity characteristics of the lower extremities during two different walking conditions. Research has shown that both physical and mental changes accompany the aging process in humans. Moreover, research has shown that emotions and physiological responses are related. A secondary goal of this study was to examine the relationships of fear of falling with gait parameters and muscle activity. This study consisted of exposing 14 younger and 14 older participants to controlled slippery conditions safely, while studying normal and adjusted gait characteristics (friction requirement, heel contact velocity, and step length) and muscle activity characteristics (Integrated EMG). First, a baseline measure was done to study normal gait prior to any exposure to slipping. A second measure was done following a slip from a contaminated floor surface, but before the initiation of a second slip. The results indicate that there were significant gait parameter differences between younger and older participants for both walking conditions. Results also indicate that there were differences in muscle activity between to the two age groups for the adjusted condition. Findings suggest that older individuals require an additional step to properly adjust gait for a contaminated walking surface.
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