Old adult fallers display reduced flexibility of arm and trunk movements when challenged with different walking speeds

Nataliya Shishov, Yoav Gimmon, Hisham Rashed, Ilan Kurz, Raziel Riemer, Amir Shapiro, Ronen Debi, Itshak Melzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Specific patterns of pelvic and thorax motions are required to maintain stability during walking. This cross-sectional study explored older-adults’ gait kinematics and their kinematic adaptations to different walking speeds, with the purpose of identifying mechanisms that might be related to increased risk for falls. Fifty-eight older adults from self-care residential facilities walked on a treadmill, whose velocity was systematically increased with increments of 0.1 meters/second (m/s) from 0.5 to 0.9 m/s, and then similarly decreased. Thorax, pelvis, trunk, arms, and legs angular total range of motion (tROM), stride time, stride length, and step width were measured. Twenty-one of the subjects reported falling, and 37 didn't fall. No significant effect of a fall history was found for any of the dependent variables. A marginally significant interaction effect of fall history and walking speed was found for arms’ tROM (p = 0.098). Speed had an effect on many of the measures for both groups. As the treadmill's velocity increased, the non-fallers increased their arm (15.9 ± 8.6° to 26.6 ± 12.7°) and trunk rotations (4.7 ± 1.9° to 7.2 ± 2.8°) tROM, whereas for the fallers the change of arm (14.7 ± 14.8° to 20.8 ± 13°) and trunk (5.5 ± 2.9° to 7.3 ± 2.3°) rotations tROM were moderate between the different walking speeds. We conclude that walking speed manipulation exposed different flexibility trends. Only non-fallers demonstrated the ability to adapt trunk and arm ROM to treadmill speed i.e., had a more flexible pattern of behavior for arm and trunk motions, supporting the upper-body's importance for stability while walking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-286
Number of pages7
JournalGait and Posture
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Falls
  • Flexibility
  • Gait
  • Kinematics
  • Older adults
  • Rigidity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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