Spatiotemporal gait parameters during dual task walking in need of care elderly and young adults. A cross-sectional study

S Agner, J Bernet, Y Brülhart, L Radlinger, S Rogan
Zeitschrift Für Gerontologie und Geriatrie 2015, 48 (8): 740-6

BACKGROUND: Up to now there have only been marginal data in the elderly in need of care regarding spatiotemporal gait parameters during single (ST) and dual tasking (DT).

AIM: The aim of this study was to allocate data for gait speed, cadence and stride length cycle variability in the elderly in need of care and in young adults during ST and DT, to compare the two groups and to demonstrate the impact of ST and DT on gait parameters.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: This cross-sectional study investigated a group of 16 young healthy adults (mean age 23.0 ± 2.5 years) and a group of 16 elderly persons in need of care (mean age 85.5 ± 0.6 years). The RehaWatch system was used to collect the spatiotemporal gait parameters cadence, speed and stride length. The participants completed four different measurements during normal walking and fast walking during ST and DT over a walking distance of 20 m. The Wilcoxon rank sum test and Whitney-U test were used for statistical analysis.

RESULTS: Gait speed (ST and DT: p < 0.001), cadence (ST and DT: p < 0.001) and gait variability (ST: p = 0.007, DT: p = 0.003) were significantly reduced in the elderly in need of care group compared to the young group. The gait speed in the elderly in need of care group decreased from normal to fast walking (ST = - 2.8%, DT = - 12.2%) compared to the young group (ST = 31.5%, DT = 25.2%).

CONCLUSION: The results of this study are comparable with the results of existing studies, which investigated falling and non-falling participants. Elderly people in need of care cannot increase the normal gait speed.

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