Evaluation of age-related differences in the stride-to-stride fluctuations, regularity and symmetry of gait using a waist-mounted tri-axial accelerometer
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PURPOSE: To compare the stride-to-stride fluctuations, regularity and symmetry of gait using a body-fixed accelerometer in a group of healthy young and healthy older adults. METHODS: Forty-one healthy young adults (24 ± 3 years) and forty-one healthy older adults (76 ± 5 years) completed a 10-min walk at a self-selected, normal walking speed while wearing a single waist-mounted tri-axial accelerometer. The following gait parameters were compared between age groups: mean step and stride time, step and stride time variability, stride time fractal scaling index and the regularity and symmetry of the acceleration pattern in the vertical, mediolateral and anteroposterior directions (unbiased autocorrelation procedure). RESULTS: Older adults displayed significantly greater step and stride time variability (p<0.05) and a lower stride time fractal scaling index (p<0.01), as well as significantly less regularity (p<0.05) and symmetry (p<0.05) of the anteroposterior accelerations. CONCLUSION: The results show that healthy older adults possess greater temporal gait variability, as well as a less-organized and repeatable pattern of variability and acceleration in the direction of motion, than younger adults. The findings also suggest the presence of an age-related decline in the anteroposterior control of gait, but not in the vertical and mediolateral control of gait.
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