Age-related joint moment characteristics during normal gait and successful reactive-recovery from unexpected slip perturbations

Jian Liu, Thurmon E Lockhart
Gait & Posture 2009, 30 (3): 276-81
The objective of the current study was to investigate the effects of aging on 3D lower extremity joint moments during successful reactive-recovery from unexpected slips. Unexpected slips were induced by having participants walk over a slippery floor surface. Successful reactive-recovery trials from nine young and nine elderly participants were identified and analyzed. Three-dimensional inverse dynamics were implemented to calculate reactive joint moments at the ankle, knee, and hip joints. Peak joint moment magnitude and the speed of peak joint moment generation were used to describe the balance recovery strategies from unexpected slips. Results indicated significantly higher peak joint moments in recovery than in normal walking for both the young and elderly. Meanwhile, during reactive-recovery, the elderly were found to utilize both frontal and sagittal joint moments while the younger adults relied primarily on sagittal joint moment. It was concluded that the ankle and knee joints were critical in controlling sagittal plane motion disturbance, while the hip joint was mainly responsible for stabilizing upper body balance in the frontal plane. This study confirmed age-related differences in joint moment generation during unexpected slips. Additionally, implementing 3D analysis is recommended in future slips and falls research.

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