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      Functional implications of muscle co-contraction during gait in advanced age.

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          Abstract

          Older adults often exhibit high levels of lower extremity muscle co-contraction, which may be the cause or effect of age-related impairments in gait and associated falls. Normal gait requires intact executive function and thus can be slowed by challenging executive resources available to the neuromuscular system through the performance of a dual task. We therefore investigated associations between lower limb co-contraction and gait characteristics under normal and dual task conditions in healthy older adults (85.4±5.9years). We hypothesized that greater co-contraction is associated with slower gait speed during dual task conditions that stress executive and attentional abilities. Co-contraction was quantified during different phases of the gait cycle using surface electromyography (EMG) signals obtained from the anterior tibialis and lateral gastrocnemius while walking at preferred speed during normal and dual task conditions. Variables included the time difference to complete the Trail Making Test A and B (ΔTMT) and gait measures during normal or dual task walking. Higher co-contraction levels during the swing phase of both normal and dual task walking were associated with longer ΔTMT (normal: R(2)=0.25, p=0.02; dual task: R(2)=0.27, p=0.01). Co-contraction was associated with gait measures during dual task walking only; greater co-contraction levels during stride and stance were associated with slower gait speed (stride: R(2)=0.38, p=0.04; stance: R(2)=0.38, p=0.04), and greater co-contraction during stride was associated with longer stride time (R(2)=0.16, p=0.03). Our results suggest that relatively high lower limb co-contraction may explain some of the mobility impairments associated with the conduct of executive tasks in older adults.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Gait Posture
          Gait & posture
          Elsevier BV
          1879-2219
          0966-6362
          Jan 20 2017
          : 53
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, MA 02131, USA. Electronic address: JustineLo@hsl.harvard.edu.
          [2 ] Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, MA 02131, USA. Electronic address: AmyLo@hsl.harvard.edu.
          [3 ] Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, MA 02131, USA. Electronic address: erinalexisolson@gmail.com.
          [4 ] Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, MA 02131, USA. Electronic address: DanielHabtemariam@hsl.harvard.edu.
          [5 ] Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, MA 02131, USA. Electronic address: Iloputaife@hsl.harvard.edu.
          [6 ] Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, MA 02131, USA. Electronic address: Gagnon@hsl.harvard.edu.
          [7 ] Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, MA 02131, USA; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA. Electronic address: BradManor@hsl.harvard.edu.
          [8 ] Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, MA 02131, USA; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA. Electronic address: Lipsitz@hsl.harvard.edu.
          Article
          S0966-6362(17)30019-X
          10.1016/j.gaitpost.2017.01.010
          28129590
          391394dc-9c38-4d8a-ad4b-c12d6f4e78ba

          Aging,Dual task,Gait,Muscle co-contraction
          Aging, Dual task, Gait, Muscle co-contraction

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