Gait biomechanics for fall prevention among older adults

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Nagano, Hanatsu ORCID: 0000-0003-4119-4289 (2022) Gait biomechanics for fall prevention among older adults. Applied Sciences (Switzerland), 12 (13). ISSN 2076-3417


In our currently ageing society, fall prevention is important for better healthy life expectancy and sustainable healthcare systems. While active outdoor walking is recommended as adequate exercise for the senior population, falls due to tripping and slipping exist as the primary causes of severe injuries. Minimum foot clearance (MFC) is the lowest vertical height of the foot during the mid-swing phase and indicates the risk of tripping. In contrast, coefficient of friction (COF) factors determine the occurrence of falls from slipping. Optimisation of the MFC and the COF for every step cycle prevents tripping and slipping, respectively. Even after the initiation of hazardous balance loss (i.e., tripping and slipping), falls can still be prevented as long as the requirements for balance are restored. Biomechanically, dynamic balance is defined by the bodily centre of mass and by the base of support: spatially—margin of stability and temporally—available response time. Fall prevention strategies should, therefore, target controlling the MFC, the COF and dynamic balance. Practical intervention strategies include footwear modification (i.e., shoe-insole geometry and slip-resistant outsoles), exercise (i.e., ankle dorsiflexors and core stabilisers) and technological rehabilitation (i.e., electrical stimulators and active exoskeletons). Biomechanical concepts can be practically applied to various everyday settings for fall prevention among the older population.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.3390/app12136660
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4207 Sports science and exercise
Current > Division/Research > College of Sports and Exercise Science
Keywords gait, biomechanics, fall risk, fall prevention, older adults
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