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The purpose of this study was to investigate obstacle clearance and reaction time parameters when crossing a series of six obstacles in older adults. A second aim was to examine the repeated exposure of this testing protocol once per week for 5 weeks. In total, 10 older adults (five females; age: 67.0 ± 6.9 years) walked onto and over six obstacles of varying heights (range: 100–200 mm) while completing no reaction time, simple reaction time, and choice reaction time tasks once per week for 5 weeks. The highest obstacles elicited the lowest toe clearance, and the first three obstacles revealed smaller heel clearance compared with the last three obstacles. Dual tasking negatively impacted obstacle clearance parameters when information processing demands were high. Longer and less consistent time to completion was observed in Session 1 compared with Sessions 2–5. Finally, improvements in simple reaction time were displayed after Session 2, but choice reaction time gradually improved and did not reach a plateau after repeated testing.
Jehu and Lajoie are with the School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Paquet is with the School of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.