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Z Gerontol Geriatr. 2004 Feb;37(1):15-9.

[Gait analysis and tailored exercise prescription in older adults].

[Article in German]

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Rehabilitationsprogramm für Mobilitäts- und Gleichgewichtsstörungen, Department für Rehabilitation und Geriatrie, Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève, 1226 Thônex-Genève, Switzerland.


Examining gait characteristics in older adults enhances our understanding of movement control in this population and helps to better target preventive interventions. Walking is a highly automated, regular motor behavior that is mostly controlled by subcortical locomotor brain regions. With increasing age, walking requires higher levels of attention and thus more cortical involvement in motor control. This can affect gait regularity by increasing stride-to-stride variability that is characteristically high among fallers. A growing number of clinical gait analysis systems is now available to determine gait variability and thus the falling risk in older adults. Interventions targeting high gait variability in older adults need to consider basic principles of motor learning. Previously common and automatic gait patterns have to be relearned and again brought up to a highly automated level of motor control. Regular walking exercise, and particularly T'ai Chi with its emphasis on sequenced, slow, and highly controlled movements, might be helpful in this relearning process. Further research is needed to explore other interventions that could favorably affect stride-to-stride variability of older adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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