The purpose of this study was to examine age-related gait characteristics and their associations with balance function in older adults. A total of 51 adult volunteers participated. All subjects underwent locomotion analysis using a 3D motion analysis and 12-channel dynamic electromyography system. Dynamic balance function was assessed by the Berg Balance Scale. Older adults showed a higher level of muscle activation than young adults, and there were significant positive correlations between increased age and activation of the trunk and thigh muscles in the stance and swing phase of the gait cycle. In particular, back extensor muscle activity was mostly correlated with the dynamic balance in older adults. Thus, back extensor muscle activity in walking may provide a clue for higher falling risk in older adults. This study demonstrates that the back extensor muscles play very important roles with potential for rehabilitation training to improve balance and gait in older adults.
Lee, Chang, and Kim are with the Department of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Center for Prevention & Rehabilitation, Heart Vascular Stroke, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Hwang and Choi are with Department of Neurology, Neuroscience Center, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. Ryu is with the Office of Biomedical Science, Research Center for Future Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.