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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015 Mar;96(3):388-94. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2014.10.018. Epub 2014 Nov 10.

Improving motor control in walking: a randomized clinical trial in older adults with subclinical walking difficulty.

Author information

1
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. Electronic address: jbrach@pitt.edu.
2
Department of Physical Therapy, Des Moines University, Des Moines, IA.
3
Division of Geriatric Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.
4
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.
5
Longitudinal Studies Section, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, MD.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To test the proposed mechanism of action of a task-specific motor learning intervention by examining its effect on measures of the motor control of gait.

DESIGN:

Single-blinded randomized clinical trial.

SETTING:

University research laboratory.

PARTICIPANTS:

Adults (N=40) aged ≥65 years with gait speed >1.0m/s and impaired motor skill (figure-of-8 walk time >8s).

INTERVENTIONS:

The 2 interventions included a task-oriented motor learning and a standard exercise program; both interventions included strength training. Both lasted 12 weeks, with twice-weekly, 1-hour, physical therapist-supervised sessions.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Two measures of the motor control of gait, gait variability and smoothness of walking, were assessed pre- and postintervention by assessors masked to the treatment arm.

RESULTS:

Of 40 randomized subjects, 38 completed the trial (mean age ± SD, 77.1±6.0y). The motor learning group improved more than the standard group in double-support time variability (.13m/s vs .05m/s; adjusted difference [AD]=.006, P=.03). Smoothness of walking in the anteroposterior direction improved more in the motor learning than standard group for all conditions (usual: AD=.53, P=.05; narrow: AD=.56, P=.01; dual task: AD=.57, P=.04). Smoothness of walking in the vertical direction also improved more in the motor learning than standard group for the narrow-path (AD=.71, P=.01) and dual-task (AD=.89, P=.01) conditions.

CONCLUSIONS:

Among older adults with subclinical walking difficulty, there is initial evidence that task-oriented motor learning exercise results in gains in the motor control of walking, while standard exercise does not. Task-oriented motor learning exercise is a promising intervention for improving timing and coordination deficits related to mobility difficulties in older adults, and needs to be evaluated in a definitive larger trial.

KEYWORDS:

Aging; Exercise; Gait; Motor control; Rehabilitation

PMID:
25448244
PMCID:
PMC4850731
DOI:
10.1016/j.apmr.2014.10.018
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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