Age-related changes in spatial and temporal gait variables

P C Grabiner, S T Biswas, M D Grabiner
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2001, 82 (1): 31-5

OBJECTIVE: To extend recent findings describing the effect of age on spatial and temporal gait variables.

DESIGN: Experimental.

SETTING: A gait analysis laboratory.

PARTICIPANTS: Two experiments with healthy nonfallers were conducted. Experiment 1 included 33 subjects (n = 15, 72.13 +/- 3.96yr; n = 18, 25.06 +/- 4.02yr); and experiment 2 included 24 subjects (n = 14, 75.57 +/- 6.15yr; n = 10; 28.10 +/- 3.48yr).

INTERVENTIONS: The effect of age, walking velocity, shoe condition, and performance of an attention-splitting task on gait variables was investigated.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Temporal and spatial gait variables were quantified using an instrumented surface across which subjects walked. The independent variables were walking velocity variability, stride length variability, stride width variability, and stride time variability.

RESULTS: Stride width variability of older adults was significantly larger than that of younger adults in both experiments. The remaining gait variables demonstrated nonsystematic or no age-related differences.

CONCLUSIONS: With the exception of stride width variability, the variability of the remaining gait variables of interest were insensitive to the speed at which subjects walked, whether the subjects were wearing shoes or not, and performing an attention-splitting task while walking. These findings contribute to an emerging interpretive framework established by similar work published by others regarding gait variability.

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