TitleMechanisms of limb collapse following a slip among young and older adults.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsPai, Y-C, Yang, F, Wening, JD, Pavol, M
JournalJ Biomech
Date Published2006
KeywordsAccidental Falls, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Aging, Female, Gait, Hip Joint, Humans, Knee Joint, Leg, Postural Balance, Walking

Recovery from a large perturbation, such as a slip, can be successful when stability of movement can be reestablished with protective stepping. Nevertheless, one dilemma for executing a protective step is that its liftoff can weaken support against limb collapse. This study investigated whether failures in limb support leading to falls after a protective step result from insufficient joint moment generation, and whether such insufficiency is greater among older fallers. A novel, unexpected slip was induced immediately following seat-off during a sit-to-stand. Joint work and mechanical energy were calculated for 43 young (9 falls, 34 recoveries) and 22 older (13 falls, 9 recoveries) adults who responded with a protective step. Comparisons of the work produced at three joints of the bilateral lower limbs revealed that insufficient concentric knee and hip extensor work prior to step liftoff was a primary differentiating factor between falling and recovery, regardless of age. Also, during stepping, fallers regardless of age failed to limit the eccentric knee extensor work at their stance limb sufficiently to retard rapid knee flexion and the consequent potential energy loss. We concluded that young and older fallers had comparable weak limb support. The greater fall incidence among the older adults likely resulted from a greater proportion of subjects who responded to the slip with insufficient knee extensor support, possibly attributable to age-differences in chair-rising. One strategy to address this dilemma may rely on task-specific training to enhance feedforward control that improves movement stability, and thus lessens the reliance on protective stepping.

Alternate JournalJ Biomech
PubMed ID16125182
Grant ListR01-AG16727 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States