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Jpn J Biomechanics Sports Exercise 7(3):179-192, 2003

Comparison of Walking Movements of the Young and Elderly Focusing on the Walking Speed

Kazumasa YANAGAWA1), Sachio USUI2), Tatsuo YAMAGUCHI3), Kazuhiko WATANABE4)

1) Laboratory for Health and Sports Sciences, Faculty of Economics, Hiroshima University of Economics, 2) Division of Behavioral Sciences, Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences, University of Hiroshima,
3) Division of Health and Physical Education, Faculty of Education, University of Okayama,
4) Division of Health and Sports Sciences, Graduate School of Education, University of Hiroshima

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to clarify the characteristics of the walking movements for the elderly compared with young adults. The walking analysis compared were 1) free walking; 2) walking within similar range of speeds;and, 3) walking of overall range of speeds during slow to fast walking. Ten healthy young men (21 to 24 years of age) and ten healthy elderly men (66 to 73 years of age) participated as the subjects in this study. The angle data of the right knee joint and that of the ankle joint, and the data of the force plate in the right stance phase were analyzed synchronously with the image data of bare foot movements during free, slow, and fast walking. The following results were obtained:
1. The variables showing significant difference between the young adults and the elderly during both free walking and walking within similar range of speeds were step length, walking ratio, swing velocity, height of toe at heel contact, height of toe at heel contact/lower limb length, angle of trunk at toe off, angular displacement of trunk, angular displacement of knee joint, and angle of ankle joint at heel contact. It was thought that these variables indicate the characteristics of the walking movements for the elderly. In other words, it was shown that the elderly had a smaller step length and walking ratio, later swing velocity, lower height of toe at heel contact (smaller dorsiflexion of ankle joint), smaller range of motion of knee joint, and a smaller movement of trunk during walking.
2. It was shown that the elderly had an extremely large variation between individuals in cadence and angle of ankle joint at heel contact.
3. It was suggested that the younger subjects regulated both the step length and cadence in fluctuation of walking speeds;and that, the elderly regulated mainly in the cadence.
4. It was shown that the elderly had a lower height of toe at heel contact regardless of walking speed.
It is thought that the individual differences of physical function increases as one gets older. Furthermore, it is conceivable that the walking function in the elderly varies between those with extreme reduction and those with almost no reduction. When comparing the walking movements of the young and elderly, it is necessary to pay attention to this point.

Key Words: elderly, young adults, walking speed, walking movements

Submittted for Publication : October 26, 2002,

Accepted for Publication : July 22, 2003

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