Multisegment foot and lower extremity biomechanics during walking in younger and older adults

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University of New Brunswick
The purpose of this study was to investigate differences in multisegment foot (MSF) and lower extremity biomechanics between young and older adults during walking at five different speeds, independent of speed, and as a function of foot structure and mobility. A 3D scanner was used to collect foot anthropometric data on 16 younger (18-35 years old) and 15 older (+65 years old) adults. A Vicon motion capture system and Kistler force plates were used to quantify trunk, pelvis, and lower limb kinematic and kinetic data. As a function of speed, older adults exhibited significant (p<.05) differences in temporospatial variables, reduced hip moment compensated by increased anterior pelvic tilting and knee flexion, as well as decreased foot mobility and propulsive capacity. Independent of speed, significant (p<.05) differences in MSF kinematics were found in older adults. Significant (p<.05) differences as a function of foot structure and mobility indicated that planus and rectus foot posture have a distinct motion pattern. Overall, findings of the study were mainly an age-related change, altering the gait pattern of older adults. To our knowledge, no single study has examined MSF and lower limb joint kinematics and kinetics across age, speed and foot structure and mobility. Results of this study improved our understanding of age-related differences in MSF mechanics.