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The Postural Effects of Anterior Versus Posterior Walker Use in an Elderly Population

1 May 2005


Posterior walkers are widely used in the pediatric population, with literature providing evidence of improved gait efficiency, a more normalized stride length, and more optimal upright posture during ambulation, when compared to anterior walker use. The elderly have traditionally used anterior walkers as an assistive device, and thus research into a posterior alternative has not been well investigated. Examination into the aging processes of the human body reveals significant degenerative changes that negatively affect posture, and as a result, decrease function and limit quality of life. Literature has linked posture to the presence of back pain as well as alterations in breathing efficiency and oxygen transport, making research into optimizing posture in any population a priority. Studies showing improved posture in children when ambulating with a posterior walker when compared to an anterior walker raise the question of the postural effect of posterior walker use in other populations. This study was intended to compare objective postural measurements of elderly subjects during ambulation with anterior versus posterior walkers, and provide a basis for additional research in this area. Subjects for this study were an elderly male and female, who were currently ambulating with anterior walkers. The Peak Performance System TM was used to digitize joint markers in order to determine hip and trunk angles for postural analysis. Each subject was recorded while ambulating with an anterior walker during a two week time period in order to establish a baseline. This baseline period was followed by four weekly measurements of the subjects ambulating with the posterior walker. This study. revealed high variance in posture during the baseline phase, limiting the potential for any significant findings. Objective data collected in this study is insufficient to support or refute any postural differences in elderly subjects ambulating with posterior walkers versus anterior walkers. Subjective data collected in this study, however, warrants further investigation of the effects of posterior walker use in an elderly population.


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