Older adults often suffer an accidental fall when navigating challenging surfaces during common locomotor tasks, such as walking and ascending stairs. This study examined the effect of slick and uneven surfaces on lower limb joint work in older and younger adults while walking and ascending stairs. Fifteen young (18–25 years) and 12 older (>65 years) adults had stance phase positive limb and joint work quantified during walking and stair ascent tasks on a normal, slick, and uneven surface, which was then submitted to a two-way mixed model ANOVA for analysis. The stair ascent required greater limb, and hip, knee, and ankle work than walking (all p < 0.001), with participants producing greater hip and knee work during both the walk and stair ascent (both p < 0.001). Surface, but not age, impacted positive limb work. Participants increased limb (p < 0.001), hip (p = 0.010), and knee (p < 0.001) positive work when walking over the challenging surfaces, and increased hip (p = 0.015), knee (p < 0.001), and ankle (p = 0.010) work when ascending stairs with challenging surfaces. Traversing a challenging surface during both walking and stair ascent tasks required greater work production from the large proximal hip and knee musculature, which may increase the likelihood of an accidental fall in older adults.
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Wenzel, Thomas A.; Hunt, Nicholas L.; Holcomb, Amy E.; Fitzpatrick, Clare K.; and Brown, Tyler N.. (2023). "Surface, but Not Age, Impacts Lower Limb Joint Work During Walking and Stair Ascent". Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, 8(4), 145. https://doi.org/10.3390/jfmk8040145