Two-year changes in gait variability in community-living older adults
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: Increases in stride-to-stride fluctuations (gait variability) are common among older adults, but little is known about the natural progression of gait variability with increasing age. Research question: Does gait variability change with increasing age in a group of community-living older adults? Methods: The participants were community-living volunteers between 70–81 years, who were tested with a two-year interval between tests. They walked 6.5 m under four different conditions: At preferred speed, at fast speed, during a dual task condition and on an uneven surface. Trunk accelerations in the anteroposterior (AP), mediolateral (ML) and vertical (V) direction were captured using a body-worn sensor worn at the lower back. Gait variability was estimated using an autocorrelation procedure, where coefficients tending towards 1.0 indicated low variability and 0.0 as high variability. To estimate change, we used an ANOVA-procedure with baseline gait speed as a covariate. Results: At baseline, 85 older adults were tested, and data for 56 of these were available for analysis over a two-year period of time. The average age at inclusion was 75.8 years (SD 3.43) and 60% were women. During preferred speed walking, variability increased in the AP direction (mean difference 0.05, p = .038), during fast speed walking it increased in the V direction (mean difference 0.04, p = .037) and during dual task-walking, it increased in the ML and V directions (mean differences 0.03, p = .032 and 0.09, p = .020 respectively). Significance: The findings from this study could be helpful for discriminating between normal and pathological progression of gait variability in older adults.