Gait Characteristics and Sensory Abilities of Older Adults are Modulated by Gender
Scaglioni Solano, Pietro
Aragón Vargas, Luis Fernando
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Despite the general perception that women and men walk differently, little is known about the reasons for these differences, especially in older adults. Previous work on gender differences in older adults has focused on spatiotemporal parameters. This study aims to assess gender-related differences in gait spatiotemporal and quality parameters when walking on a flat walkway at two different self-selected speeds: comfortable and fast. Sensorimotor abilities (Strength, agility, standing balance, reaction time) were also compared by gender, and gender-specific associations between spatiotemporal and sensorimotor parameters and gait quality were studied. Two tri-axial accelerometers were used at head and pelvis levels to investigate spatiotemporal parameters (step length, velocity and cadence), and gait quality (harmonic ratios (HR) and attenuation of accelerations between body levels) in 122 older adults (90 women, 69.7 ± 5.1 y.o. and 32 men, 71.6 ± 6.4 y.o.). Both men and women walked with similar speed; however women presented faster cadence and shorter steps than men at both walking speeds. Women also walked with greater vertical HR (head and pelvis), mediolateral pelvis HR, and attenuation (mediolateral and anteroposterior) than men. Women had better control of standing balance on foam (eyes open and closed) and tandem test. Moreover, balance on foam, tandem test, step length and cadence were associated to gender-specific gait quality parameters. The aging process seems to be affecting men and women differently, thus, gender differences should be considered when preparing intervention programs to improve balance and gait in older populations or when establishing normative data for balance and gait in older adults.
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