Locomotor stability and adaptation during perturbed walking across the adult female lifespan

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The aim of this work was to examine locomotor stability and adaptation across the adult female lifespan during perturbed walking on the treadmill. 11 young, 11 middle and 14 older-aged female adults (mean and SD: 25.5(2.1), 50.6(6.4) and 69.0(4.7) years old respectively) walked on a treadmill. We applied a sustained perturbation to the swing phase of the right leg for 18 consecutive gait cycles, followed by a step with the resistance unexpectedly removed, via an ankle strap connected to a break-and-release system. The margin of stability (MoS) at foot touchdown was calculated as the difference between the anterior boundary of the base of support (BoS) and extrapolated center of mass. Older participants showed lower MoS adaptation magnitude in the early adaptation phase (steps 1-3) compared to the young and middle-aged groups. However, in the late adaptation phase (steps 16-18) there were no significant differences in adaptation magnitude between the three age groups. After removing the resistance, all three age groups showed similar aftereffects (i.e. increased BoS). The current results suggest that in old age, the ability to recalibrate locomotion to control stability is preserved, but the rate of adaptive improvement in locomotor stability is diminished.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of biomechanics
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1244-1247
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ID: 2182816

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