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Freda Vrantsidis, Keith D. Hill, Kirsten Moore, Robert Webb, Susan Hunt, and Leslie Dowson

The Getting Grounded Gracefully© program, based on the Awareness Through Movement lessons of the Feldenkrais method, was designed to improve balance and function in older people. Fifty-five participants (mean age 75, 85% women) were randomized to an intervention (twice-weekly group classes over 8 wk) or a control group (continued with their usual activity) after being assessed at baseline and then reassessed 8 wk later. Significant improvement was identified for the intervention group relative to the control group using ANOVA between-groups repeated-measures analysis for the Modified Falls Efficacy Scale score (p = .003) and gait speed (p = .028), and a strong trend was evident in the timed up-and-go (p = .056). High class attendance (88%) and survey feedback indicate that the program was viewed positively by participants and might therefore be acceptable to other older people. Further investigation of the Getting Grounded Gracefully program is warranted.

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Andrea N. Lay, Chris J. Hass, D. Webb Smith, and Robert J. Gregor

Sloped walking surfaces provide a unique environment for examining the bio-mechanics and neural control of locomotion. While sloped surfaces have been used in a variety of studies in recent years, the current literature provides little if any discussion of the integrity, i.e., validity, of the systems used to collect data. The goal of this study was to develop and characterize a testing system capable of evaluating the kinetics of human locomotion on sloped surfaces. A ramped walkway system with an embedded force plate was constructed and stabilized. Center of pressure and reaction force data from the force plate were evaluated at 6 ramp grades (0, 5, 15, 25, 35, and 39%). Ground reaction force data at 0% grade were effectively the same as data from the same force plate when mounted in the ground and were well within the range of intrasubject variability. Collectively, data from all tests demonstrate the fidelity of this ramp system and suggest it can be used to evaluate human locomotion over a range of slope intensities.