Analysis of Free-Living Gait in Older Adults with and Without Parkinson's Disease and with and Without a History of Falls: Identifying Generic and Disease-Specific Characteristics

Silvia Del Din, Brook Galna, Alan Godfrey, Esther M.J. Bekkers, Elisa Pelosin, Freek Nieuwhof, Anat Mirelman, Jeffrey M. Hausdorff, Lynn Rochester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Falls are associated with gait impairments in older adults (OA) and Parkinson's disease (PD). Current approaches for evaluating falls risk are based on self-report or one-time assessment and may be suboptimal. Wearable technology allows gait to be measured continuously in free-living conditions. The aim of this study was to explore generic and specific associations in free-living gait in fallers and nonfallers with and without PD. Methods Two hundred and seventy-seven fallers (155 PD, 122 OA) who fell twice or more in the previous 6 months and 65 nonfallers (15 PD, 50 OA) were tested. Free-living gait was characterized as the volume, pattern, and variability of ambulatory bouts (Macro), and 14 discrete gait characteristics (Micro). Macro and Micro variables were quantified from free-living data collected using an accelerometer positioned on the low back for one week. Results Macro variables showed that fallers walked with shorter and less variable ambulatory bouts than nonfallers, independent of pathology. Micro variables within ambulatory bouts showed fallers walked with slower, shorter and less variable steps than nonfallers. Significant interactions showed disease specific differences in variability with PD fallers demonstrating greater variability (step length) and OA fallers less variability (step velocity) than their nonfaller counterparts (p < 0.004). Conclusions Common and disease-specific changes in free-living Macro and Micro gait highlight generic and selective targets for intervention depending on type of faller (OA-PD). Our findings support free-living monitoring to enhance assessment. Future work is needed to confirm the optimal battery of measures, sensitivity to change and value for fall prediction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-506
Number of pages7
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume74
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 14 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Falls
  • Gait
  • Parkinsons
  • Wearable Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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