Author(s): Lord SR, Lloyd DG, Li SK
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Abstract Tests of vision, vestibular function, peripheral sensation, strength, reaction time, balance and gait were administered to 183 community-dwelling women aged 22-99 years. Walking speed, stride length and cadence declined with age with corresponding increases in stance duration and percentage of the stride in the stance phase. Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity, tactile and vibration sense in the lower limb, vestibular function (as assessed by the vestibular X Writing Test), quadriceps and ankle dorsiflexion strength and reaction time were significantly associated with all five gait parameters. Postural sway measures were associated with walking speed, stride length and percentage of the stride in the stance phase. Multiple regression analyses revealed seven sensori-motor measures as significant predictors for one or more of the gait parameters: low contrast visual acuity, tactile sensitivity, vibration sense, vestibular X-test writing performance, quadriceps strength, reaction time and sway. Quadriceps strength was included as a predictor variable for every gait parameter and in each case had the strongest beta weight. Women who fell on two or more occasions in a one-year prospective period had significantly reduced and more variable cadence and significantly increased stance duration (measured in absolute terms and as a percentage of stride) than those who did not fall or fell on one occasion only. The study findings elucidate the relative importance of specific physiological systems in the maintenance of normal gait and identify temporal gait measures that are associated with falling in older people.
This article was published in Age Ageing
and referenced in Journal of Physiotherapy & Physical Rehabilitation