How age and surface inclination affect joint moment strategies to accelerate and decelerate individual leg joints during walking.
Jeroen B. Waanders, Alessio Murgia, Tibor Hortobágyi, Paul DeVita, Jason R. Franz
Abstract. A joint moment also causes motion at other joints of the body. This joint coupling-perspective allows more insight into two age-related phenomena during gait. First, whether increased hip kinetic output compensates for decreased ankle kinetic output during positive joint work. Second, whether preserved joint kinetic patterns during negative joint work in older age have any functional implication. Therefore, we examined how age and surface inclination affect joint moment strategies to accelerate and/or decelerate individual leg joints during walking. Healthy young (age: 22.5±4.1 years, n=18) and older (age: 76.0±5.7 years, n=22) adults walked at 1.4 m/s on a split-belt instrumented treadmill at three grades (0%, 10%, -10%). Lower-extremity moment-induced angular accelerations were calculated for the hip (0% and 10%) and knee (0% and -10%) joints. During level and uphill walking, both age groups showed comparable ankle moment-induced ipsilateral (p=0.774) and contralateral (p=0.047) hip accelerations, although older adults generated lower ankle moments in late stance. However, ankle moment-induced contralateral hip accelerations were smaller (p=0.001) in an older adult subgroup (n=13) who showed larger hip extension moments in early stance than young adults. During level and downhill walking, leg joint moment-induced knee accelerations were unaffected by age (all p>0.05). These findings suggest that during level and uphill walking increased hip flexor mechanical output in older adults does not arise from reduced ankle moments, contrary to increased hip extensor mechanical output. Additionally, results during level and downhill walking imply that preserved eccentric knee extensor function is important in maintaining knee stabilization in older age.