View Full Version : Gait of elderly

M Swanepoel
04-20-1998, 11:58 PM
Hi Netters,

Wen-ling Chen's data are very interesting. I'm surprised that the
stance and double stance phases are relatively prolonged in the gait
cycle of elderly Asians - after all, if limb joint degeneration and
associated stiffness is the major factor in reducing walking speeds,
then I'd expect the most rapid knee flexion and/or greatest flexion
angle phases to be relatively prolonged. Does a relatively prolonged
stance phase hint at a need to re-establish balance?

The marked reduction in the heelstrike force of Caucasian men with
age, as noted by Wen-ling, is also fascinating. What is going on
here? Is this the result of a lower striking speed, a different foot
angle with respect to the ground at heelstrike, or both? Comparison
of videos of the gaits of young and elderly subjects might show the
foot angle at heelstrike becomes flatter. I suppose someone has
video clips for comparative purposes?

The effect of impaired balance upon gait could be investigated by giving
low dosages of an anti-emitic ("seasickness") drug to one group of subjects,
and placebo pills to another. The test should also be done in a double-blind
fashion, with the researchers being unaware of which subjects
received the placebo pills. Provided a drug is chosen which is known to exercise
a powerful effect on the inner ear, with few side effects, subsequent study
of the gaits of the subjects should prove to be interesting. It would also be
interesting to compare the gaits of blindfolded, and long-term partially sighted
and blind subjects, to see how visual cues may affect gait.

Mark Swanepoel
School of Mechanical Engineering
University of the Witwatersrand

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