The number of elderly individuals in the population and their life expectancy are increasing. The elderly population will experience changes in ambulation as they age. Changes affecting gait may occur in the following areas: posture, balance, range of motion (ROM), strength and energy costs. Range of motion values for the elderly population are necessary in order for clinicians to make comparisons with patient values during therapy and to set accurate and realistic functional goals for the rehabilitation process. Researchers have determined normative values for many components of gait. However, only a few studies examined trunk kinematics of the elderly during the gait cycle. No study has used three dimensional motion analysis for determining trunk rotation or determining if a correlation exists between trunk rotation, trunk strength and gait velocity in the elderly during gait. The present study determined values for upper, lower, and resultant trunk range of motion (TROM) in 34 elderly individuals during gait. It also attempted to determine if there was a correlation between trunk rotation and trunk strength and between trunk rotation and gait velocity. Subjects were independent community ambulators between 68 and 92 years of age (mean age = 80.29). Each subject walked on a three meter walkway while being video taped. The video was analyzed with the Peak Performance 3-D motion analysis system, yielding data on TROM and gait velocity. Each subject also participated in a manual muscle test (MMT) of the erector spinae, rectus abdominis and the internal and external abdominal oblique muscles. Results showed the following: there was a high degree of variance for trunk ROM (flexion, extension, lateral tilt, and rotation) between and within genders. There was no correlation found between trunk rotation and trunk strength or trunk rotation and gait velocity. For this group, there appeared to be no differences between women and men for trunk ROM. Mean gait velocity was higher in women compared to men and mean trunk strength was greater in men compared to women. Based on the results of this study, clinicians may need to change some of their treatment approaches when working with gait disorders in the elderly population.
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