Associations Between Gait-Related Falls and Gait Adaptations When Stepping Onto a Curb: A Prospective Falls Study

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Objectives: To examine gait regulation during the approach to stepping onto a curb for older adults who did or did not report gait-related falls over a 12-month follow-up. Methods: A total of 98 participants aged 60 years and older were analyzed. Primary outcomes were step length adaptations (lengthening or shortening) during a curb approach and the occurrence of a gait-related fall during a 12-month follow-up. Results: Linear mixed-effects modeling indicated stronger adaptations toward the end of the approach. Participants who reported experiencing a gait-related fall showed a stronger relationship between the adjustment required and adjustment produced, indicating different gait adaptations during the step leading onto the curb. Discussion: The link between prospective gait-related falls and gait adaptations indicated that older adults with reduced capabilities require stronger adaptations to complete tasks reminiscent of everyday life. This finding may provide insight into the mechanisms of falls in older adults and should inform new fall prevention interventions.

Andel, Cole, and Pepping are with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Banyo, Queensland, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Steven van Andel at Steven.vanAndel@acu.edu.au.
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