Short-latency inhibition mitigates the relationship between conscious movement processing and overly cautious gait
Age and Ageing
Background Overly cautious gait is common in older adults. This is characterised by excessively slow gait, shortened steps, broadened base of support and increased double limb support. The current study sought to (1) evaluate if overly cautious gait is associated with attempts to consciously process walking movements, and (2) explore whether an individual's ability to rapidly inhibit a dominant motor response serves to mitigate this relationship. Methods A total of 50 older adults walked at a
... dults walked at a self-selected pace on an instrumented walkway containing two raised wooden obstacles (height = 23 cm). Trait conscious movement processing was measured with the Movement-Specific Reinvestment Scale. Short-latency inhibitory function was assessed using a validated electronic go/no-go ruler catch protocol. We used linear regressions to explore the relationship between these variables and gait parameters indicative of overly cautious gait. Results When controlling for general cognitive function (MoCA), and functional balance (Berg Balance Scale), the interaction between trait conscious movement processing and short-latency inhibition capacity significantly predicted gait velocity, step length and double limb support. Specifically, older adults with higher trait conscious movement processing and poorer inhibition were more likely to exhibit gait characteristics indicative of cautious gait (i.e. reduced velocity, shorter step lengths and increased double limb support). Neither conscious movement processing nor inhibition independently predicted gait performance. Conclusion The combination of excessive movement processing tendencies and poor short-latency inhibitory capacity was associated with dysfunctional or 'overly cautious' gait. It is therefore plausible that improvement in either factor may lead to improved gait and reduced fall risk.