Basic Spatiotemporal Gait Variables of Young and Older Healthy Volunteers Walking Along a Novel Figure-of-8 Path

Arturo Zancan, Stefania Sozzi, Marco Schieppati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Locomotion along curved trajectories requires fine coordination among body segments. Elderly people may adopt a cautious attitude when steering. A simple, expeditious, patient-friendly walking protocol can be a tool to help clinicians. We evaluated the feasibility of a procedure based upon a newly designed Figure-of-eight (nFo8) path and an easy measurement operation. Methods: Sixty healthy volunteers, aged from 20 to 86 years, walked three times at self-selected speed along a 20 m linear (LIN) and the 20 m nFo8 path. Number of steps, mean speed and walk ratio (step length/cadence) were collected. Data were analysed for the entire cohort and for the groups aged 20-45, 46-65, and >65 years. Results: There was no difference in mean LIN walking speed between the two younger groups but the oldest was slower. During nFo8, all groups were slower (about 16%) than during LIN. Cadence was not different across groups but lower during nFo8 in each group. Step length was about 8% shorter in the two younger groups and 14% shorter in the oldest during nFo8 compared to LIN. Walk ratio was the smallest in the oldest group for both LIN and nFo8. Conclusions: A complex nFo8 walking path, with fast and easy measurement of a simple set of variables, detects significant differences with moderate and large effects in gait variables in people >65 years. This challenging trajectory is more revealing than LIN. Further studies are needed to develop a quick clinical tool for assessment of gait conditions or outcome of rehabilitative treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number698160
JournalFront. Neurol.
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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