Head flexion and different walking speeds do not affect gait stability in older females

Maslivec, Amy and Bampouras, Theodoros M. and Dewhurst, Susan (2017) Head flexion and different walking speeds do not affect gait stability in older females. Human Movement Science, 55. pp. 87-93. ISSN 0167-9457

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Head flexion is destabilizing in older individuals during quiet stance, yet the effect head flexion has on gait is not known. The study examined whether head flexion and gait parameters were altered when walking freely and fixed to a visual target, at different walking speeds. 15 young (23 ± 4 years) and 16 older (76 ± 6 years) healthy females walked at three different walking speeds (slow, comfortable, and fast) under two visual conditions (natural and fixed [focusing on a visual target set at eye level]). Head flexion was assessed using 2D video analysis, whilst gait parameters (step length, double support time, step time, and gait stability ratio) were recorded during a 9 m flat walkway. A mixed design ANOVA was performed for each variable, with age as the between-subject factor and, visual condition and walking speed as within-subject factors. When walking freely, older displayed a greater need for head flexion between walking speeds (P < 0.05) when compared to young. Walking under fixed condition reduced head flexion at all walking speeds in the older (P < 0.05), but had no effect on the young (P > 0.05). Walking at different speeds showed no difference in head flexion when walking under either visual condition and had no effect on gait stability for both groups. Despite older displaying differences in head flexion between visual conditions, there was no effect on gait parameters. Walking speed presented trivial difference in head flexion in older females, whilst overall gait stability was unaffected by different walking speeds.

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Journal Article
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Human Movement Science
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25 Sep 2018 09:50
Last Modified:
17 Sep 2023 02:21