GAIT STABILITY DURING DIRECTION CHANGE WALKING WITH T-POLES IN THE ELDERLY

  • Sukhoon Yoon
  • Young-Hoo Kwon
Keywords: T-poles, gait stability, inclination angles, elderly

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths for the elderly and typically occur when this population is forced into an unbalanced condition, such as changing a direction during gait. It is widely accepted that the elderly are more vulnerable to falls due to age-related declines in balance and gait stability (Hahn & Chou, 2003). Therefore, a better understanding of gait stability mechanics during direction changes would be critical in reducing the incidence of falls among the elderly. One of the most insightful ways to assess gait stability is to use the instantaneous orientation of the line that connects the center of pressure (COP) and whole body center of mass (COM). The angles made by the line with respect to horizontal line (COM-COP inclination angles) are characterized by the whole body position with respect to the supporting foot during gait (Chou, 2006). Recently, telescopestyle walking poles (T-poles) were deemed effective in reducing elderly fall risk factors (Yoon, 2007); however, the effect of T-poles on gait stability is still unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of T-poles on elderly gait stability using COM-COP inclination angles in both straight and direction change during gait.