Comparing biomechanical variables in older adult fallers and non-fallers

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University of New Brunswick
Falling in the older adult population is a major concern among health care professionals. Several studies have compared the biomechanical differences between older adults with and without a history of fall. However, these studies have mainly focused on the participants’ Center of Pressure (COP) and have neglected other biomechanical variables, like Ground Reaction Force (GRF) and Plantar Pressure measures. The purpose of this study was to compare different biomechanical variables (COP, GRF, and Plantar Pressure) between older adult fallers and non-fallers during walking and standing to gain further insight regarding falling in the aging population. 102 older adults (41 fallers, 61 non-fallers) were asked to walk on a walkway with embedded pressure mats, mounted on top of force plates. Additionally, the participants were asked to stand in two different conditions: Eyes Closed Narrow Stance (ECNS) and Eyes Open semi-Tandem Stance (EOTS), for 30 seconds. The results of the study indicated that the GRF and COP measures for the walking tests, and the COP and Plantar Pressure measures for the standing tests were significantly different between the two groups. Moreover, among the two standing test conditions the ECNS was more appropriate for measuring biomechanical variables. This study provides useful data with respect to falling in the older adult population and researchers can use this information to identify older adult who are at risk of falling. Consequently, through proper intervention the rate of falls can be reduced in the aging population.