Gait in older adults: A review of the literature with an emphasis toward achieving favorable clinical outcomes, Part II

Meredith H. Harris, Maureen K. Holden, Lawrence P. Cahalin, Diane Fitzpatrick, Susan Lowe, Paul K. Canavan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Healthcare professionals have an important role in identifying the possible etiologies of a patient's abnormal gait. Aging is associated with a decrease in postural control, gait velocity, stride length, and distance walked during a timed walking test, as well as an increase in gait variability. Numerous tools are available to assist healthcare professionals in identifying and quantifying abnormal gait and functional abilities. Identification of the etiology of gait and functional abnormalities should include a gross assessment of hearing, vision, and psychological status (eg, cognition, anxiety disorders, depression, phobias), as well as the willingness of subjects to participate in an individualized rehabilitation program. From the available literature, it appears that interventions incorporating FES, acoustic feedback, increasing treadmill speed greater than the self-selected speed (with BWS in a harness for safety), therapeutic exercises (strength, endurance, and power training), pedometer use, and task-orientated balance training combined with BWS treadmill training appear to be the most efficacious methods for optimizing gait in persons who have incurred a stroke or have PD. These same interventions are likely to optimize gait in persons with medical disorders other than stroke, but further research is needed to understand which interventions (or combinations) are most efficacious for other patient populations, including older adults. Optimal therapeutic exercise and gait training should produce more metabolically efficient gait and functional abilities that can be more confidently and safely performed. Early recognition of gait disturbances and the provision of patient-specific therapeutic interventions are likely to improve, or at least maintain, the gait of an older person and decrease the risk of a fall, preserving a high quality of life for older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Geriatrics
Volume16
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2008

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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