Age related changes in the mechanisms contributing to head stabilisation, and whole body stability during steady state gait and gait initiation

Maslivec, Amy (2018) Age related changes in the mechanisms contributing to head stabilisation, and whole body stability during steady state gait and gait initiation. Doctoral thesis, University of Cumbria (awarded by Lancaster University). Item availability may be restricted.

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Abstract

Head stabilisation during gait related tasks is thought to be fundamental to whole body stability, but this has received little attention in the older population. There is a need to examine any age related changes in neuromechanical mechanisms underpinning head stabilisation that may challenge the control of head stability, and consequently whole body stability. The present Thesis examined the mechanisms contributing to head stabilisation, and whole body stability during two gait tasks, steady state gait and gait initiation in young and older females, with the overall aim of contributing to negating fall risk. Four studies were designed to examine a) head position and walking speed on gait stability during steady state gait; b) neuromechanical mechanisms underpinning head stabilisation during gait initiation; c) head position on whole body stability during gait initiation; and d) head stabilisation during gait initiation at different speeds. Results showed that a) gait stability, was unaffected by head position and different walking speeds during steady state gait, b) decreased head stability in older individuals during gait initiation can be attributed to a deterioration of the neuromechanical mechanisms relating to head stability, c) free head movement during gait initiation does not affect head stabilisation or whole body stability but it does affect gait parameters, while d) initiating gait at faster than comfortable speeds compromises head stabilisation and reduces whole body stability in older individuals. Collectively, these results demonstrate that older individuals adopt an increased head flexion position when walking, while impaired head stability can be attributed to deterioration of the function of their neuromechanical mechanisms compared to their younger counterparts during gait tasks at comfortable speeds. These findings provide an understanding of the effect head stabilisation can have on older adults’ gait and on their fall risk during gait and gait initiation.

Item Type: Thesis/Dissertation (Doctoral)
Departments: Sports and Physical Activity
Depositing User: Theodoros Bampouras
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2018 10:05
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2018 06:59
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/3752

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