Adaptive feedback potential in dynamic stability during disturbed walking in the elderly

Publikationen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungBegutachtung


  • Stefanie Bierbaum
  • Andreas Peper
  • Kiros Karamanidis
  • Adamantios Arampatzis



After perturbation of the gait, feedback information may help regaining balance adequately, but it remains unknown whether adaptive feedback responses are possible after repetitive and unexpected perturbations during gait and if there are age-related differences. Prior experience may contribute to improved reactive behavior. Fourteen old (59-73 yrs) and fourteen young (22-31 yrs) males walked on a walkway which included one covered element. By exchanging this element participants either stepped on hard surface or unexpectedly on soft surface which caused a perturbation in gait. The gait protocol contained 5 unexpected soft trials to quantify the reactive adaptation. Each soft trial was followed by 4-8 hard trials to generate a wash-out effect. The dynamic stability was investigated by using the margin of stability (MoS), which was calculated as the difference between the anterior boundary of the base of support and the extrapolated position of the center of mass in the anterior-posterior direction. MoS at recovery leg touchdown were significantly lower in the unexpected soft trials compared to the baseline, indicating a less stable posture. However, MoS increased (p<0.05) in both groups within the disturbed trials, indicating feedback adaptive improvements. Young and old participants showed differences in the handling of the perturbation in the course of several trials. The magnitude of the reactive adaptation after the fifth unexpected perturbation was significantly different compared to the first unexpected perturbation (old: 49±30%; young: 77±40%), showing a tendency (p=0.065) for higher values in the young participants. Old individuals maintain the ability to adapt to feedback controlled perturbations. However, the locomotor behavior is more conservative compared to the young ones, leading to disadvantages in the reactive adaptation during disturbed walking.

ZeitschriftJournal of biomechanics
Seiten (von - bis)1921-1916
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 07.07.2011

ID: 20209


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