Neuromechanical response of the upper body to unexpected perturbations during gait initiation in young and older adults
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Background: Control of upper body motion deteriorates with ageing leading to impaired ability to preserve balance during gait, but little is known on the contribution of the upper body to preserve balance in response to unexpected perturbations during locomotor transitions, such as gait initiation. Aim: To investigate differences between young and older adults in the ability to modify the trunk kinematics and muscle activity following unexpected waist lateral perturbations during gait initiation. Methods: Ten young (25 ± 2 years) and ten older adults (73 ± 5 years) initiated locomotion from stance while a lateral pull was randomly applied to the pelvis. Two force plates were used to define the feet centre-of-pressure displacement. Angular displacement of the trunk in the frontal plane was obtained through motion analysis. Surface electromyography of cervical and thoracic erector spinae muscles was recorded bilaterally. Results: A lower trunk lateral bending towards the stance leg side in the preparatory phase of gait initiation was observed in older participants following perturbation. Right thoracic muscle activity was increased in response to the perturbation during the initial phase of gait initiation in young (+ 68%) but not in older participants (+ 7%). Conclusions: The age-related reduction in trunk movement could indicate a more rigid behaviour of the upper body employed by older compared to young individuals in response to unexpected perturbations preceding the initiation of stepping. Older adults’ delayed activation of thoracic muscles could suggest impaired reactive mechanisms that may potentially lead to a fall in the early stages of the gait initiation.
Aging Clinical and Experimental Research;
Rum, L., Vannozzi, G., Macaluso, A. and Laudani, L. (2020) 'Neuromechanical response of the upper body to unexpected perturbations during gait initiation in young and older adults', Aging Clinical and Experimental Research. DOI: 10.1007/s40520-020-01592-2
Article published in Aging Clinical and Experimental Research on 23 May 2020, available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-020-01592-2.
Cardiff Metropolitan University (Grant ID: Cardiff Metropolian (Internal))
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