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J Biomech. 2014 Jul 18;47(10):2330-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2014.04.021. Epub 2014 Apr 26.

Reduced intensity in gait-slip training can still improve stability.

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Department of Kinesiology, University of Texas, El Paso, TX 79968, USA.
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL 60612, USA. Electronic address:


Perturbation training with "free" slips (i.e., with long slip distance) has been able to successfully improve stability and to reduce the incidence of falls among older adults. Yet, it is unclear whether a highly constrained training with reduced slip distance (and hence training intensity) can achieve similar effects. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether short-distance slips could also improve the control of stability, and whether such improvements could be generalized to a novel, "free" slip. Thirty-six young subjects were randomly assigned to either one of the two training groups, which underwent seven training trials with constrained slips of either 12-cm or 18-cm in distance before encountering a novel, "free" slip (up to 150 cm) in the test trial; or the control group, which only experienced the same test trial of a novel, "free" slip. The results showed that while both training groups were able to significantly improve their control of stability in training; the 18-cm group had significantly better reactive control of stability than the 12-cm group. During the "free" slip, such advantage enabled the 18-cm group to exhibit significantly less balance loss incidence than 12-cm group (58.3 vs. 83.3%) and the controls (100%). These differences could be fully accounted for when we assume that the central nervous system directly controls slip velocity or slip distance during adaptation, whereby the level of similarity between training trials and the test trial governs the degree of generalization. The findings that low intensity training may still improve stability warrant further investigations among older adults.


Adaptation; Falls reduction; Generalization; Intervention; Perturbation training

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