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Effect of aging on gaze, stepping behaviour, balance control and head posture during stair negotiation

Zietz, Doerte (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Factors contributing towards falls in older age during overground walking have been widely studied. Stepping behaviour, balance and head posture control during stair negotiation in young adults (YA) and older adults with either lower (LROA) or higher (HROA) risk of falling during midstair negotiation have not been investigated. The aims of the thesis were threefold. Firstly, age-related changes in gaze behaviour were investigated. The main finding was that older adults fixate stair edges for longer than YA. Secondly, the effect of manipulating visual information on stepping parameters and balance control was compared between YA, LROA and HROA. For stair ascent, stepping and balance control was preserved in LROA and HROA and highlighted stair edges led to increased foot clearance in all groups. For stair descent, HROA demonstrated smaller foot clearance than LROA and highlighted stair edges improved balance in LROA and HROA. Thirdly, head posture was studied in YA, LROA and HROA. Compared to walking, LROA and HROA demonstrated more variable head posture than YA. Overall the findings suggest that adults use visual and probably proprioceptive information about stair edge locations to negotiate stairs and HROA benefited from highlighted stair edges. HROA should be included in future stair negotiation studies.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Hollands, Mark and Lakie, Martin
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Department:School of Sport and Exercise Sciences
Subjects:GN Anthropology
QM Human anatomy
QP Physiology
R Medicine (General)
RZ Other systems of medicine
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3073
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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