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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.