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The relationships between physical capacity and biomechanical plasticity in old adults during level and incline walking

Conference: 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics
Abstract: Old versus young adults exhibit increased hip and decreased ankle joint mechanical output during level and incline walking. This distal-to-proximal redistribution of joint torques and powers is now a well-established age-related gait adaptation and has been termed biomechanical plasticity. The effect of physical capacity, which varies greatly in old adults, on this gait adaptation remains unclear. For example, high capacity old adults (i.e. those with fast walking speeds) might either retain a more youthful gait strategy or adopt larger magnitudes of plasticity in order to walk well. The purpose of this study was to quantify the relationships between physical capacity and biomechanical plasticity in old adults during level and incline walking. We conducted 3D gait analyses on 32 old adults (>70 yrs) as they walked over level ground and up a 10┬░ incline at self-selected speeds. We used motion capture (Qualisys AB) and force platforms (AMTI) to collect kinematic and ground reaction force data, respectively. To measure physical capacity, we used the SF-36 Physical Component score and to define biomechanical plasticity we created ratios of hip extensor to ankle plantarflexor peak torques, angular impulses, peak positive powers, and work. We conducted correlation analyses between SF-36 PC scores and the biomechanical plasticity ratios. Positive relationships existed between SF-36 PC scores and all biomechanical plasticity ratios during level walking. Similar results were observed during incline walking, however only three of these four relationships reached statistical significance. Our results suggest that old adults of higher physical capacities exhibit larger magnitudes of biomechanical plasticity.
Listed In: Biomechanics, Gait,
Tagged In: ageing, Aging gait, Biomechanics

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