Age-related changes in upper body contribution to braking forward locomotion in women
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Introduction Gait termination is a transitory task that requires the lower body to produce braking forces and inhibit forward propulsion. However, it is still unknown whether the upper body plays an active role in braking of gait and whether this mechanism is impaired with ageing. Research question Do older women exhibit an impaired control of upper body segments during gait termination with respect to young women? Methods Ten young and 10 older women performed three gait termination trials at comfortable speed while fixing the gaze on a visual target. A 3D motion analysis system was used to measure head, trunk and pelvis angular displacement and velocity, and estimate neck, waist and hip moments through Plug-in Gait modeling. Cross-correlation analysis of kinematic waveforms between paired adjacent segments (head-trunk and trunk-pelvis) was performed to investigate upper body coordination. Surface EMG activity of erector spinae (L3), sternocleidomastoid and neck extensor muscles was recorded. Statistics was carried out by MANOVA. Results Older participants exhibited delayed peak extensor torques of neck, waist and hip compared to young participants, along with lower progression speed. Both groups showed a slight flexion of the trunk counteracted by a backward tilt of head and pelvis during braking. In addition, older women displayed a peculiar upper body coordination pattern, with the head coupling with trunk motion, as shown by cross-correlation. Older women displayed shorter lumbar erector spinae onset latency relative to last heel contact than young (16 ± 68 ms vs 92 ± 37 ms). Significance The upper body plays an active role in the braking of gait and this mechanism is impaired in older women. Moreover, the age-related coupling of head and trunk motion may produce an unbalancing effect on whole-body stability during the braking mechanism, thus leading to a higher risk of falls.
Gait & Posture;
Rum, L., Laudani, L., Vannozzi, G. and Macaluso, A., 2018. 'Age-related changes in upper body contribution to braking forward locomotion in women', Gait & posture. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2018.11.015
Article published in Gait & posture available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2018.11.015
Cardiff Metropolitan University (Grant ID: Cardiff Metropolian (Internal))
- Sport Research Groups 
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