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  • Author: Luigi Ferrucci x
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Pradeep Y. Ramulu, Emilie S. Chan, Tara L. Loyd, Luigi Ferrucci and David S. Friedman

Background:

Measuring physical at home and away from home is essential for assessing health and well-being, and could help design interventions to increase physical activity. Here, we describe how physical activity at home and away from home can be quantified by combining information from cellular network–based tracking devices and accelerometers.

Methods:

Thirty-five working adults wore a cellular network–based tracking device and an accelerometer for 6 consecutive days and logged their travel away from home. Performance of the tracking device was determined using the travel log for reference. Tracking device and accelerometer data were merged to compare physical activity at home and away from home.

Results:

The tracking device detected 98.6% of all away-from-home excursions, accurately measured time away from home and demonstrated few prolonged signal drop-out periods. Most physical activity took place away from home on weekdays, but not on weekends. Subjects were more physically active per unit of time while away from home, particularly on weekends.

Conclusions:

Cellular network–based tracking devices represent an alternative to global positioning systems for tracking location, and provide information easily integrated with accelerometers to determine where physical activity takes place. Promoting greater time spent away from home may increase physical activity.

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Seung-uk Ko, Gerald J. Jerome, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Stephanie Studenski and Luigi Ferrucci

Consideration of knee pain can be crucial for identifying fall-related gait patterns. While walking, gait parameters at usual speed were examined in persons with different falls and knee pain status. A total of 439 adults aged 60–92 years participated in this study. Persons with a history of falls had a wider stride width (p = .036) and longer double support time (p = .034) than nonfallers. In the absence of knee pain, fallers had longer double support time than nonfallers (p = .012), but no differences in double support time by history of falls were observed in participants with knee pain. With slower gait speed, fallers with knee pain have narrower stride width and larger hip range of motion (p = .027 and p = .001, respectively). Results suggest the importance of considering knee pain in fall studies for better understanding the fall-related differential gait mechanisms and for designing fall prevention intervention strategies.

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Seung-uk Ko, Gerald J. Jerome, Eleanor M. Simonsick and Luigi Ferrucci

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.