Older Adults Show Preserved Equilibrium but Impaired Step Length Control in Motor-Equivalent Stabilization of Gait
2012 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 7, no 12, e52024- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Stable walking depends on the coordination of multiple biomechanical degrees of freedom to ensure the dynamic maintenance of whole-body equilibrium as well as continuous forward progression. We investigated adult age-related differences in whole-body coordination underlying stabilization of center of mass (CoM) position and step pattern during locomotion. Sixteen younger (20-30 years) and 16 healthy older men (65-80 years) walked on a motorized treadmill at 80%, 100% and 120% of their self-selected preferred speed. Preferred speeds did not differ between the age groups. Motor-equivalent stabilization of step parameters (step length and width) and CoM position relative to the support (back and front foot) was examined using a generalized covariation analysis. Across age groups, covariation indices were highest for CoM position relative to the front foot, the measure most directly related to body equilibrium. Compared to younger adults, older adults showed lower covariation indices with respect to step length, extending previous findings of age-related differences in motor-equivalent coordination. In contrast, no reliable age differences were found regarding stabilization of step width or any of the CoM parameters. The observed pattern of results may reflect robust prioritization of balance over step pattern regularity, which may be adaptive in the face of age-associated sensorimotor losses and decline of coordinative capacities.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 7, no 12, e52024- p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-87680DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052024ISI: 000312483300048OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-87680DiVA: diva2:605886