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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1998 Mar;79(3):317-22.

Biomechanical gait alterations independent of speed in the healthy elderly: evidence for specific limiting impairments.

Author information

1
Harvard Medical School Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

It is not known whether changes in the biomechanics of elderly gait are related to aging per se, or to reduced walking speed in this population. The goals of the present study were to identify specific biomechanical changes, independent of speed, that might impair gait performance in healthy older people by identifying age-associated changes in the biomechanics of gait, and to determine which of these changes persist at increased walking speed.

DESIGN:

Stereophotogrammetric and force platform data were collected. Differences in peak joint motion (kinematic) and joint moment and power (kinetic) values between healthy young and elderly subjects at comfortable and increased walking speed were measured.

SETTING:

A gait laboratory.

SUBJECTS:

Thirty-one healthy elderly (age 65 to 84 years) and 31 healthy young adult subjects (age 18 to 36 years), all without known neurologic, musculoskeletal, cardiac, or pulmonary problems.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

All major peak kinematic and kinetic variables during the gait cycle.

RESULTS:

Several kinematic and kinetic differences between young and elderly adults were found that did not persist when walking speed was increased. Differences that persisted at both comfortable and fast walking speeds were reduced peak hip extension, increased anterior pelvic tilt, and reduced ankle plantarflexion and ankle power generation.

CONCLUSION:

Gait performance in the elderly may be limited by both subtle hip flexion contracture and ankle plantarflexor concentric weakness. Results of the current study should motivate future experimental trials of specific hip flexor stretching and ankle plantarflexor concentric strengthening exercises to preserve and potentially improve walking performance in the elderly.

PMID:
9523785
DOI:
10.1016/s0003-9993(98)90013-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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