Age-related differences in the maintenance of frontal plane dynamic stability while stepping to targets

Academic Article


  • Older adults may be vulnerable to frontal plane dynamic instability, which is of clinical significance. The purpose of the current investigation was to examine the age-related differences in frontal plane dynamic stability by quantifying the margin of stability and hip abductor moment generation of subjects performing a single crossover step and sidestep to targets that created three different step widths during forward locomotion. Nineteen young adults (9 males, age: 22.9±3.1 years, height: 174.3±10.2. cm, mass: 71.7±13.0. kg) and 18 older adults (9 males, age: 72.8±5.2 years, height: 174.9±8.6. cm, mass: 78.0±16.3. kg) participated. For each walking trial, subjects performed a single laterally-directed step to a target on a force plate. Subjects were instructed to "perform the lateral step and keep walking forward". The peak hip abductor moment of the stepping limb was 42% larger by older adults compared to younger adults (. p<0.001). Older adults were also more stable than younger adults at all step targets (. p<0.001). Older adults executed the lateral step with slower forward-directed and lateral-directed velocity despite similar step widths. Age-related differences in hip abduction moments may reflect greater muscular effort by older adults to reduce the likelihood of becoming unstable. The results of this investigation, in which subjects performed progressively larger lateral-directed steps, provide evidence that older adults may not be more laterally unstable than younger adults. However, age-related differences in this study could also reflect a compensatory strategy by older adults to ensure stability while performing this task.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hurt CP; Grabiner MD
  • Start Page

  • 592
  • End Page

  • 597
  • Volume

  • 48
  • Issue

  • 4