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Gait Posture. 2012 Jan;35(1):92-5. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2011.08.013. Epub 2011 Sep 23.

Transitioning to a narrow path: the impact of fear of falling in older adults.

Author information

1
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Everyday ambulation requires navigation of variable terrain, transitions from wide to narrow pathways, and avoiding obstacles. While the effect of age on the transition to a narrow path has been examined briefly, little is known about the impact of fear of falling on gait during the transition to a narrow path. The purpose was to examine the effect of age and fear of falling on gait during transition to a narrow path.

METHODS:

In 31 young, mean age=25.3 years, and 30 older adults, mean age=79.6 years, step length, step time, step width and gait speed were examined during usual and transition to narrow pathway using an instrumented walkway.

FINDINGS:

During the transition to narrow walk condition, fearful older adults compared to young had a wider step width (0.06 m vs 0.04 m) prior to the narrow path and took shorter steps (0.53 m vs 0.72 m; p<0.001). Compared to non-fearful older adults, fearful older adults walked slower and took shorter steps during narrow path walking (gait speed: 1.1m/s vs 0.82 m/s; p=0.01; step length: 0.60 m vs 0.47 m; p=0.03). In young and non-fearful older adults narrow path gait was similar to usual gait. Whereas older adults who were fearful, walked slower (0.82 m/s vs 0.91 m/s; p=0.001) and took shorter steps (0.44 m vs 0.53 m; p=0.004) during narrow path walking compared to usual walking.

INTERPRETATION:

Changes in gait characteristics with transitioning to a narrow pathway were greater for fear of falling than for age.

PMID:
21944475
PMCID:
PMC3250559
DOI:
10.1016/j.gaitpost.2011.08.013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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