Obstacle-Crossing Task-Related Usual Gait Patterns of Older Adults Differentiating Falls and Gait Ability

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Obstacle crossing, such as stepping over a curb, exerts additional demands on balance control, and therefore the study of usual-pace gait patterns associated with obstacle-crossing performance may provide additional insight into understanding falls and deterioration of gait in older adults. Participants included 432 adults aged 60–96 years (218 women). Participants who failed the obstacle-crossing task (n = 181) walked slower with smaller knee range of motion than participants who successfully completed the obstacle-crossing task (all ps < .001). Participants who failed the obstacle crossing reported a greater likelihood of falling in the previous year, more balance problems, lower walking ability, and needed longer time to complete 5 chair stands than those who passed the task (all ps < .05). Obstacle-crossing task may identify gait patterns in older adults who appear functionally intact, but who are nonetheless at risk of fall and balance problems.

Ko is with the Department of Mechanical Design Engineering, Chonnam National University, Yeosu, South Korea. Jerome is with the Department of Kinesiology, Towson University, Towson, MD, USA. Simonsick and Ferrucci are with the Translational Gerontology Branch, National Institute on Aging (NIA/NIH), Baltimore, MD, USA.

Ko (seunguk.ko@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
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