A systematic review of gait perturbation paradigms for improving reactive stepping responses and falls risk among healthy older adults.
ABSTRACT: Falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults and most often occur during walking. While strength and balance training moderately improve falls risk, training reactive recovery responses following sudden perturbations during walking may be more task-specific for falls prevention. The aim of this review was to determine the variety, characteristics and effectiveness of gait perturbation paradigms that have been used for improving reactive recovery responses during walking and reducing falls among healthy older adults.A systematic search was conducted in PubMed, Web of Science, MEDLINE and CINAHL databases in December 2015, repeated in May 2016, using sets of terms relating to gait, perturbations, adaptation and training, and ageing. Inclusion criteria: studies were conducted with healthy participants of 60 years or older; repeated, unpredictable, mechanical perturbations were applied during walking; and reactive recovery responses to gait perturbations or the incidence of laboratory or daily life falls were recorded. Results were narratively synthesised. The risk of bias for each study (PEDro Scale) and the levels of evidence for each perturbation type were determined.In the nine studies that met the inclusion criteria, moveable floor platforms, ground surface compliance changes, or treadmill belt accelerations or decelerations were used to perturb the gait of older adults. Eight studies used a single session of perturbations, with two studies using multiple sessions. Eight of the studies reported improvement in the reactive recovery response to the perturbations. Four studies reported a reduction in the percentage of laboratory falls from the pre- to post-perturbation experience measurement and two studies reported a reduction in daily life falls. As well as the range of perturbation types, the magnitude and frequency of the perturbations varied between the studies.To date, a range of perturbation paradigms have been used successfully to perturb older adults' gait and stimulate reactive response adaptations. Variation also exists in the number and magnitudes of applied perturbations. Future research should examine the effects of perturbation type, magnitude and number on the extent and retention of the reactive recovery response adaptations, as well as on falls, over longer time periods among older adults.
Project description:The ability to rapidly adjust gait to cope with unexpected mechanical perturbations declines with ageing. Previous studies, however, have not ensured that gait stability pre-perturbation was equivalent across participants or age groups which may have influenced the outcomes. In this study, we investigate if age-related differences in stability following gait perturbations remain when all participants walk with equivalent stability. We also examine if interlimb transfer of gait adaptations are observed in healthy older adults, by examining if adaptation to repeated perturbations of one leg can benefit stability recovery when the other leg is perturbed. During walking at their stability-normalised walking speeds (young: 1.32 ± 0.07 m/s; older: 1.31 ± 0.13 m/s; normalised to an average margin of stability of 0.05 m), 30 young and 28 older healthy adults experienced ten unpredictable treadmill belt accelerations (the first and last applied to the right leg, the others to the left leg). Using kinematic data, we assessed the margins of stability during unperturbed walking and the first eight post-perturbation recovery steps. Older adults required three more steps to recover during the first perturbation to each leg than the young adults. Yet, after repeated perturbations of the left leg, older adults required only one more step to recover. Interestingly, for the untrained right leg, the older adults could regain stability with three fewer steps, indicating interlimb transfer of the improvements. Age differences in reactive gait stability remain even when participants' walk with equivalent stability. Furthermore, we show that healthy older adults can transfer improvements in balance recovery made during repeated perturbations to one limb to their recovery following a perturbation to the untrained limb.
Project description:Perturbation-based gait assessment has been used to quantify gait stability in older adults. However, knowledge on which perturbation type is most suitable to identify poor gait stability is lacking. We evaluated the effects of ipsi- and contra-lateral sway, belt acceleration and deceleration, and visual and auditory perturbations on medio-lateral (ML) and anterior-posterior (AP) margins of stability (MoS) in young and older adults. We aimed to evaluate (1) which perturbation type disturbed the gait pattern substantially, (2) how participants recovered, and (3) whether recovery responses could discriminate between young and older adults. Nine young (25.1?±?3.4 years) and nine older (70.1?±?7.6 years) adults walked on the CAREN Extended (Motek BV, The Netherlands). The perturbation effect was quantified by deviation in MoS over six post-perturbation steps compared to baseline walking. Contra-lateral sway and deceleration perturbations resulted in the largest ML (1.9-4 times larger than other types) and AP (1.6-5.6 times larger than other types) perturbation effects, respectively. After both perturbation types, participants increased MoS by taking wider, shorter, and faster steps. No differences between young and older adults were found. We suggest to evaluate the potential of using contra-lateral sway and deceleration perturbations for fall risk identification by including both healthy and frail older adults. Graphical abstract Margins of stability during steady state (left) and perturbed (right) gait to quantify reactive gait stability in response to various perturbation types in young and older adults.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The European population is rapidly ageing. There is an urgent need for innovative solutions to reduce fall risk in older adults. Perturbation-based gait training is a promising new method to improve reactive balance responses. Whereas positive effects on task-specific dynamic balance recovery during gait have been shown in clinical or laboratory settings, translation of these effects to daily life gait function and fall risk is limited. We aim to evaluate the effect of a 4-week perturbation-based treadmill training on daily-life dynamic gait stability, assessed with inertial sensor data. Secondary outcomes are balance recovery performance, clinical balance and gait assessment scores, the amount of physical activity in daily life and falls incidence during 6?months follow-up. METHODS:The study is a monocenter assessor-blinded randomized controlled trial. The target study sample consists of 70 older adults of 65?years and older, living in the community and with an elevated risk of falling. A block-randomization to avoid seasonal effects will be used to allocate the participants into two groups. The experimental group receives a 4-week, two times per week perturbation-based gait training programme on a treadmill, with simulated slips and trips, in combination with cognitive dual tasks. The control group receives a 4-week, two times per week treadmill training programme under cognitive dual-task conditions without perturbations. Participants will be assessed at baseline and after the 4-weeks intervention period on their daily-life gait stability by wearing an inertial sensor on the lower back for seven consecutive days. In addition, clinical balance and gait assessments as well as questionnaires on falls- and gait-efficacy will be taken. Daily life falls will be followed up over 6 months by a fall calendar. DISCUSSION:Whereas perturbation-based training has shown positive effects in improving balance recovery strategies and in reducing laboratory falls, this study will contribute to investigate the translation of perturbation-based treadmill training effects in a clinical setting towards improving daily life gait stability and reducing fall risk and falls. TRIAL REGISTRATION:NTR7703 / NL66322.028.18, Registered: January 8, 2019; Enrolment of the first participant April 8, 2019.
Project description:Most falls occur after a loss of balance following an unexpected perturbation such as a slip or a trip. Greater understanding of how humans control and maintain stability during perturbed walking may help to develop appropriate fall prevention programs. The aim of this study was to examine changes in spatiotemporal gait and stability parameters in response to sudden mechanical perturbations in medio-lateral (ML) and anterior-posterior (AP) direction during treadmill walking. Moreover, we aimed to evaluate which parameters are most representative to quantify postural recovery responses. Ten healthy adults (mean = 26.4, SD = 4.1 years) walked on a treadmill that provided unexpected discrete ML and AP surface horizontal perturbations. Participants walked under no perturbation (normal walking), and under left, right, forward, and backward sudden mechanical perturbation conditions. Gait parameters were computed including stride length (SL), step width (SW), and cadence, as well as dynamic stability in AP- (MoS-AP) and ML- (MoS-ML) directions. Gait and stability parameters were quantified by means, variability, and extreme values. Overall, participants walked with a shorter stride length, a wider step width, and a higher cadence during perturbed walking, but despite this, the effect of perturbations on means of SW and MoS-ML was not statistically significant. These effects were found to be significantly greater when the perturbations were applied toward the ML-direction. Variabilities, as well as extremes of gait-related parameters, showed strong responses to the perturbations. The higher variability as a response to perturbations might be an indicator of instability and fall risk, on the same note, an adaptation strategy and beneficial to recover balance. Parameters identified in this study may represent useful indicators of locomotor adaptation to successfully compensate sudden mechanical perturbation during walking. The potential association of the extracted parameters with fall risk needs to be determined in fall-prone populations.
Project description:Falls are a leading cause of injury, hospitalization and even death among older adults. Although various strength and balance exercise interventions have shown moderate reductions in falls incidence among healthy older adults, no significant falls incidence improvements have been consistently seen in frail older adults or in patient groups with an increased falls risk (e.g. people with Parkinson's disease and stroke). This might be due to a lack of task specificity of previous exercise interventions to the recovery actions required to prevent a fall. Perturbation-based balance training (PBT) is an emerging task-specific intervention that aims to improve reactive balance control after destabilizing perturbations in a safe and controlled environment. Although early studies were carried out predominantly in research laboratory settings, work in clinical settings with various patient groups has been proliferating. A systematic search of recent PBT studies showed a significant reduction of falls incidence among healthy older adults and certain patient groups (e.g. people with Parkinson's disease and stroke), with clinically relevant reductions in frail older adults. The most practical methods in clinical settings might be treadmill-based systems and therapist-applied perturbations, and PBT that incorporates multiple perturbation types and directions might be of most benefit. Although more controlled studies with long-term follow-up periods are required to better elucidate the effects of PBT on falls incidence, PBT appears to be a feasible and effective approach to falls reduction among older adults in clinical settings. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2017; 17: 2294-2303..
Project description:<b>Background:</b> Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. Perturbation-Based-Balance Training (PBBT) is a promising approach to reduce fall rates by improving reactive balance responses. PBBT programs are designed for older adults who are able to stand and walk on a motorized treadmill independently. However, frail older adults, whose fall rates are higher, may not have this ability and they cannot participate. Thus, there is a critical need for innovative perturbation exercise programs to improve reactive balance and reduce the fall risks among older adults in a wider range of functioning. Trunk and arms are highly involved in reactive balance reactions. We aim to investigate whether an alternative PBBT program that provides perturbations during hands-free bicycling in a sitting position, geared to improve trunk and arm reactive responses, can be transferred to reduce fall risks and improve balance function among pre-frail older adults. <b>Methods:</b> In a single-blinded randomized-controlled trial, 68 community-dwelling pre-frail older adults are randomly allocated into two intervention groups. The experimental group receives 24-PBBT sessions over 12-weeks that include self-induced internal and machine-induced external unannounced perturbations of balance during hands-free pedaling on a bicycle-simulator system, in combination with cognitive dual-tasks. The control group receives 24 pedaling sessions over 12-weeks by the same bicycle-simulator system under the same cognitive dual-tasks, but without balance perturbations. Participants' reactive and proactive balance functions and gait function are assessed before and after the 12-week intervention period (e.g., balance reactive responses and strategies, voluntary step execution test, postural stability in upright standing, Berg Balance Test, Six-meter walk test, as well as late life function and fear of falling questionnaires). <b>Discussion:</b> This research addresses two key issues in relation to balance re-training: (1) generalization of balance skills acquired through exposure to postural perturbations in a sitting position investigating the ability of pre-frail older adults to improve reactive and proactive balance responses in standing and walking, and (2) the individualization of perturbation training to older adults' neuromotor capacities in order to optimize training responses and their applicability to real-life challenges. <b>Clinical Trial Registration:</b> www.clinicaltrials.gov, NCT03636672 / BARZI0104; Registered: July 22, 2018; Enrolment of the first participant March: 1, 2019. See Supplementary File.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Older adults are more susceptible to balance perturbations during walking than young adults. However, we lack an individual joint-level understanding of how aging affects the neuromechanical strategies used to accommodate balance perturbations. RESEARCH QUESTION:We investigated gait phase-dependence in and aging effects on leg joint kinematic variability during walking with balance perturbations. We hypothesized that leg joint variability would: 1) vary across the gait cycle and 2) increase with balance perturbations. We also hypothesized that perturbation effects on leg joint kinematic variability would be larger and more pervasive in older versus young adults. METHODS:We collected leg joint kinematics in young and older adults walking with and without mediolateral optical flow perturbations of different amplitudes. RESULTS:We first found that leg joint variability during walking is gait phase-dependent, with step-to-step adjustments occurring predominantly during push-off and early swing. Second, young adults accommodated perturbations almost exclusively by increasing coronal plane hip joint variability, likely to adjust step width. Third, perturbations elicited larger and more pervasive increases in all joint kinematic outcome measures in older adults. Finally, we also provide insight into which joints contribute more to foot placement variability in walking, adding that variability in sagittal plane knee and coronal plane hip joint angles contributed most to that in step length and step width, respectively. SIGNIFICANCE:Taken together, our findings may be highly relevant to identifying specific joint-level therapeutic targets to mitigate balance impairment in our aging population.
Project description:Reactive locomotor adaptations are crucial for safe mobility, but remain relatively unexplored. Here we assess reactive gait adaptations, and their retention, savings and interlimb transfer. Using new methods to normalise walking speed and perturbation magnitude, we expose eighteen healthy adults to ten unexpected treadmill belt accelerations during walking (the first and last perturbing the right leg, the others perturbing the left leg) on two days, one month apart. Analysis of the margins of stability using kinematic data reveals that humans reactively adapt gait, improving stability and taking fewer recovery steps, and fully retain these adaptations over time. On re-exposure, retention and savings lead to further improvements in stability. Currently, the role of interlimb transfer is unclear. Our findings show that humans utilise retention and savings in reactive gait adaptations to benefit stability, but that interlimb transfer may not be exclusively responsible for improvements following perturbations to the untrained limb.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Walking balance in older adults is disproportionately susceptible to lateral instability provoked by optical flow perturbations. The prolonged exposure to these perturbations could promote reactive balance control and increased balance confidence in older adults, but this scientific premise has yet to be investigated. This proof of concept study was designed to investigate the propensity for time-dependent tuning of walking balance control and the presence of aftereffects in older adults following a single session of optical flow perturbation training. METHODS:Thirteen older adults participated in a randomized, crossover design performed on different days that included 10?min of treadmill walking with (experimental session) and without (control session) optical flow perturbations. We used electromyographic recordings of leg muscle activity and 3D motion capture to quantify foot placement kinematics, lateral margin of stability, and antagonist coactivation during normal walking (baseline), early (min 1) and late (min 10) responses to perturbations, and aftereffects immediately following perturbation cessation (post). RESULTS:At their onset, perturbations elicited 17% wider and 7% shorter steps, higher step width and length variability (+171% and?+132%, respectively), larger and more variable margins of stability (MoS), and roughly twice the antagonist leg muscle coactivation (p-values<0.05). Despite continued perturbations, most outcomes returned to values observed during normal, unperturbed walking by the end of prolonged exposure. After 10 min of perturbation training and their subsequent cessation, older adults walked with longer and more narrow steps, modest increases in foot placement variability, and roughly half the MoS variability and antagonist lower leg muscle coactivation as they did before training. CONCLUSIONS:Findings suggest that older adults: (i) respond to the onset of perturbations using generalized anticipatory balance control, (ii) deprioritize that strategy following prolonged exposure to perturbations, and (iii) upon removal of perturbations, exhibit short-term aftereffects that indicate a lessening of anticipatory control, an increase in reactive control, and/or increased balance confidence. We consider this an early, proof-of-concept study into the clinical utility of prolonged exposure to optical flow perturbations as a training tool for corrective motor adjustments relevant to walking balance integrity toward reinforcing task-specific, reactive control and/or improving balance confidence in older adults. TRIAL REGISTRATION:clinicaltrials.gov ( NCT03341728 ). Registered 14 November 2017.
Project description:The ability to maintain dynamic balance in response to unexpected perturbations during walking is largely mediated by reactive control strategies. Reactive control during perturbed walking can be characterized by multiple metrics such as measures of whole-body angular momentum (WBAM), which capture the rotational dynamics of the body, and through Floquet analysis which captures the orbital stability of a limit cycle attractor. Recent studies have demonstrated that people with spatiotemporal asymmetries during gait have impaired control of whole-body dynamics as evidenced by higher peak-to-peak ranges of WBAM over the gait cycle. While this may suggest that spatiotemporal asymmetries could impair stability, no studies have quantified how direct modification of asymmetry influences reactive balance control. Here, we used a biofeedback paradigm that allows participants to systematically adopt different levels of step length asymmetry to test the hypothesis that walking asymmetrically impairs the reactive control of balance. In addition, we tested the hypothesis that perturbations to the non-dominant leg would cause less whole-body rotation due to its hypothesized role in weight support during walking. We characterized reactive control strategies in two ways. We first computed integrated angular momentum to characterize changes in whole-body configuration during multi-step responses to perturbations. We also computed the maximum Floquet multipliers (FMs) across the gait cycle, which represent the rate of convergence back to limit cycle behavior. Our results show that integrated angular momentum during the perturbation step and subsequent recovery steps, as well as the magnitude of maximum FMs over the gait cycle, do not change across levels of asymmetry. However, our results showed both limb-dependent and limb-independent responses to unexpected perturbations. Overall, our findings suggest that there is no causal relationship between step length asymmetry and impaired reactive control of balance in the absence of neuromotor impairments. Our approach could be used in future studies to determine if reducing asymmetries in populations with neuromotor impairments, such people post-stroke or amputees improves dynamic stability.