The development of a reactive gait assessment, toward identifying risk for falls in older adults

  • Sanne Roeles

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Falls are the leading cause of injuries in older adults. To prevent falls, early identification of individuals at risk is therefore needed. Although gait impairments are among the main risk factors, currently available clinical balance and gait assessments lack sensitivity in identifying risk for falls. Since most falls occur following trips or slips reduced ability to adequately recover from gait perturbations may be indicative of fall risk. The main aim of my industrial doctorate programme was to investigate whether reactive gait assessment can be used to identify risk for falls in older adults;I used innovative technology from the company Motek and developed a mixed-perturbation protocol to challenge the individual's gait pattern and measure the recovery responses in a safe, standardized and objective manner. The initial protocol and outcome measures were based on a literature review. Three subsequent phases of development and evaluation were used to deliver a standardized reactive gait assessment.;Using this assessment I was able to reveal that older adults with a history of falls were more affected by contralateral sway and deceleration perturbation in terms of continuous trunk motion than those without a history of falls, while no differences between fallers and non-fallers were found in clinical and steady state gait measures. This suggests that reactive gait assessment has added value in fall risk identification in older adults.;Therefore, I recommend using the contralateral sway and deceleration perturbations of our developed perturbation protocol and assessing responses by means of continuous trunk motion to further evaluate the use of reactive gait assessment for fall risk identification in older adults. Motek as an industrial company can facilitate this by providing customers with the developed reactive gait assessment and encourage clinically driven research to examine the reproducibility and validity of reactive gait assessment using evidence-based, affordable and easy-to-use technologies.
Date of Award21 Feb 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorPhilip Rowe (Supervisor) & Craig Childs (Supervisor)

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