The influence of age on gait parameters during the transition from a wide to a narrow pathway


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Abstract

Background and PurposeThe ability to negotiate pathways of different widths is a prerequisite of daily living. However, only a few studies have investigated changes in gait parameters in response to walking on narrow pathways. The aim of this study is to examine the influence of age on gait adjustments during the transition from a wide to a narrow pathway.MethodDESIGN: Two-group repeated measures design. SETTING: Gait Laboratory. PARTICIPANTS: Twenty healthy older participants (mean [M] = 74.3 years, Standard deviation [SD] = 7.2 years); 20 healthy young participants (M = 26.6 years, SD = 6.1 years).InterventionsMaking the transition from walking on a wide pathway (68 cm) to walking on a narrow pathway (15 cm). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Step length, step time, step width, double support time and base of support.ResultsHealthy older participants were able to make the transition from a wide to a narrow pathway successfully. There was only one significant interaction, between age and base of support (p < 0.003). Older adults decreased their base of support only when negotiating the transition step, while young participants started decreasing their base of support prior to the negotiation of transition step (p < 0.01).ConclusionAdjustments to the transition from a wide to a narrow pathway are largely unaffected by normal ageing. Difficulties in making the transition to a narrow pathway during walking should not be attributed to normal age-related changes.

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