Characteristics of step responses following varying magnitudes of unexpected lateral perturbations during standing among older people – a cross-sectional laboratory-based study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: The inability to recover from unexpected lateral loss of balance may be particularly relevant to the problem of falling. Aim: We aimed to explore whether different kinematic patterns and strategies occur in the first recovery step in single-step trials in which a single step was required to recover from a fall, and in multiple-step trials in which more than one step was required to recover from a fall. In addition, in the multiple-step trials, we examined kinematic patterns of balance recovery where extra steps were needed to recover balance. Methods: Eighty-four older adults (79.3 ± 5.2 years) were exposed to unannounced right/left perturbations in standing that were gradually increased to trigger a recovery stepping response. We performed a kinematic analysis of the first recovery step of all single-step and multiple-step trials for each participant and of total balance recovery in the multiple-step trial. Results: Kinematic patterns and strategies of the first recovery step in the single-step trials were significantly dependent on the perturbation magnitude. It took a small, yet significantly longer time to initiate a recovery step and a significantly longer time to complete the recovery step as the magnitude increased. However, the first recovery step in the multiple-step trials showed no significant differences between different perturbation magnitudes; while, in total balance recovery of these trials, we observed a small, yet significant difference as the magnitude increased. Conclusions: At relatively low perturbation magnitudes, i.e., single-step trials, older adults selected different first stepping strategies and kinematics as perturbation magnitudes increased, suggesting that this population activated pre-planned programs based on the perturbation magnitude. However, in the first recovery step of the multiple-step trials, i.e., high perturbation magnitudes, similar kinematic movement patterns were used at different magnitudes, suggesting a more rigid, automatic behavior, while the extra-steps were scaled to the perturbation magnitude. This suggest that older adults activate pre-planned programs based on the magnitude of the perturbation, even before the first step is completed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number400
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Falls
  • First step is completed
  • Older adults
  • Step recovery response
  • Total balance recovery
  • Unexpected balance perturbation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Characteristics of step responses following varying magnitudes of unexpected lateral perturbations during standing among older people – a cross-sectional laboratory-based study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this