Indexed on: 09 Mar '17Published on: 09 Mar '17Published in: Gait & Posture
Turning is a common feature of daily life and dynamic coordination of the axial body segments is a cornerstone for safe and efficient turning. Although slow walking speed is a common trait of old age and neurological disorders, little is known about the effect of walking speed on axial coordination during walking turns. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of walking speed on axial coordination during walking turns in healthy elderly adults. Seventeen healthy elderly adults randomly performed 180° left and right turns while walking in their self-selected comfortable pace and in a slow pace speed. Turning velocity, spatiotemporal gait parameters (step length and step time), angular rotations and angular velocity of the head and pelvis, head-pelvis separation (i.e. the angular difference in degrees between the rotation of the head and pelvis) and head-pelvis velocity were analyzed using Wilcoxon signed-rank tests. During slow walking, turning velocity was 15% lower accompanied by shorter step length and longer step time compared to comfortable walking. Reducing walking speed also led to a decrease in the amplitude and velocity of the axial rotation of the head and pelvis as well as a reduced head-pelvis separation and angular velocity. This study demonstrates that axial coordination during turning is speed dependent as evidenced by a more 'en bloc' movement pattern (i.e. less separation between axial segments) at reduced speeds in healthy older adults. This emphasizes the need for matching speed when comparing groups with diverse walking speeds to differentiate changes due to speed from changes due to disease.