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Control of head stability during gait initiation in young and older women

Laudani, L. and Casabona, A. and Perciavalle, V. and Macaluso, A. (2006) Control of head stability during gait initiation in young and older women. Journal of Electro - myography and Kinesiology, 16. pp. 603-610. ISSN 1050-6411

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Abstract

Transition tasks between static and dynamic situations may challenge head stabilization and balance in older individuals. The study was designed to investigate differences between young and older women in the upper body motion during the voluntary task of gait initiation. Seven young (25 ± 2.3 years) and seven older healthy women (78 ± 3.4 years) were required to stand on a force platform and initiate walking at their self-selected preferred speed. Angles of head, neck and trunk were measured by motion analysis in the sagittal plane and a cross-correlation analysis was performed on segments pairs. Variability of head and neck angular displacements, as indicated by average standard deviation, was significantly greater in the older than in the young participants. The young women maintained dynamic stability of the upper body, as forward flexion of the trunk was consistently counteracted by coordinated head–neck extension. Differently, movement patterns employed by the older women also included a rigid motion of all upper body segments leaning forward as a single unit. These results demonstrated that older women perform the transition from standing to walking with greater variability in the patterns of upper body motion compared to young women.