Biomechanical analysis of obstacle avoidance in walking with telescope-style poles in the elderly
Elderly gait is an important topic given the projected increase in this population and the cost of fall-related injuries. The following research was conducted to analyze elderly ·gait with and without walking poles. This study was conducted with two main purposes. 1) To investigate the effects of T-poles on lower and upper extremity joints in the elderly during walking with three different turning angles (0°, 20°, and 45°). 2) To study the effects of T-poles on gait stability parameters in the elderly during walking with three different turning angles (0°, 20°, and 45°). Thirteen participants who had a mean age of 74.2 ± 5.5 years were recruited for this study. The participants spent over 6 months in a walking program getting acquainted with the T-poles. Resultant joint moments for upper and lower joint extremities joints were computed using an inverse dynamic approach. At all three lower extremity joints, significant (p < . 05) resultant joint moment differences were found between T-pole walking and normal walking. A significant increase in joint moments were found in T-pole walking compare with those of normal walking for the upper extremity joints, which were within acceptable ranges when compared to previous related research. Among the gait stability parameters, mean maximum attainable base of support size, stability phase ratio, and mean minimum inner distance revealed significant pole effects across all tum angles with the PW conditions showing larger values. For the mean maximum outer distance, significant pole effect was found only in the 45 ° angle with the PW condition. Mean maximum attainable base of support revealed a significant tum angle effect among the T-pole walking conditions (45° > 20° > 0°). The mean minimum inner distance showed a significant difference between the 0° condition and 45° condition of the T-pole walking condition. Stability phase ratio and the mean maximum outer distance revealed no significant inter-angle difference among the T-pole walking conditions. This study demonstrated that T-poles waking showed different loading patterns of support leg and upper extremity joints and provides a more stable situation for the elderly during direction change gait (20° and 45°) when compared to straight (0°). The findings of the current study provide a better understanding for T-pole walking and base of future studies related with T-poles. Future study should explore the dual tasks with T-pole walking such as walking with T-poles and catching objects.