Ageing Effects on Tripping Risk: The Foot-Ground Clearance of Healthy Community Dwelling Japanese Cohorts Aged 50, 60 and 70 Years
BackgroundFalls-related injuries are particularly serious for older people, causing pain, reduced community engagement and associated medical costs. Tripping is the leading cause of falls and the current study examined whether minimum ground clearance (MFC) of the swing foot, indicating high tripping risk, would be differentiated across cohorts of healthy 50-, 60- and 70-years old community residents in Japan.MethodsThree groups (50s, 60s and 70s) of 123 Konosu City residents consented to be
... consented to be recorded when walking on an unobstructed surface at preferred speed. Gait biomechanics was measured using high speed (100 Hz) motion capture (OptiTrack – Natural Point Inc.), including step length and width, double support, foot contact angle and MFC (swing toe height above the ground). Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was used to confirm ageing effects on MFC and fundamental gait parameters. Pearson's correlations were performed to identify the relationships between mean MFC and other MFC characteristics (SD and SI), step length, step width, double support time and foot contact angle. ResultsCompared to 50s, lower step length was seen (2.69cm and 6.15cm) for 60s and 70s, respectively. No other statistical effects were identified for spatio-temporal parameters between the three groups. The 50s cohort MFC was also significantly higher than 60s and 70s, while step-to-step MFC variability was greater in the 70s than 50s and 60s. Pearson's correlations demonstrated more symmetrical gait associated with greater MFC height. In the 70s increased MFC height correlated with higher MFC variability and reduced foot contact angle. ConclusionMFC height reduces from 60 years but more variable MFC appears later, from 70 years. While symmetrical gait was accompanied by increased MFC height, in the 70s group attempts to increase MFC height may have caused more MFC variability and lower foot contact angles, compromising foot-ground clearance. Assessments of swing foot mechanics may be a useful component of community falls prevention.