Lateral stability during forward-induced stepping for dynamic balance recovery in young and older adults

M. W. Rogers, L. D. Hedman, M. E. Johnson, T. D. Cain, T. A. Hanke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Background. Balance dysfunction related to lateral instability has been associated with falls and fall-related injuries among older individuals. Protective stepping for dynamic balance recovery requires the effective control of lateral body motion. This study investigated the relationship between aging, falls, and lateral stability during forward-induced stepping for dynamic balance recovery. Methods. Forward steps were induced by a motor-driven waist-pull system in 12 younger adults, 20 healthy community-dwelling older adult nonfallers, and 18 older adults who had reported falls. Group differences in kinetic and kinematic stepping characteristics for a range of postural disturbance magnitudes were evaluated. Results. Despite group similarities in anticipatory postural adjustments for minimizing lateral instability, the older fallers demonstrated significantly greater sideways body motion toward the stepping side at first-step foot contact and a more laterally directed foot placement. During the first step, forward-stepping characteristics were generally comparable between the groups, but the older fallers had an earlier liftoff time and longer step duration. Conclusions. During forward-induced protective stepping, otherwise healthy older adults who had experienced falls showed particular differences in their control of lateral body motion that were not attributable to changes in anticipatory postural mechanisms. Aging changes in controlling lateral body motion during protective stepping appear to involve factors that intervene between the first-step liftoff and foot contact and/or adaptations in stepping patterns related to prior planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)M589-M594
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Aging


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