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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±5.9 years). 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
          9416830
          21050
          Gait Posture
          Gait Posture
          Gait & posture
          0966-6362
          1879-2219
          7 February 2017
          20 January 2017
          March 2017
          01 March 2018
          : 53
          : 110-114
          Affiliations
          Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, MA 02131, USA
          Article
          PMC5346031 PMC5346031 5346031 nihpa846983
          10.1016/j.gaitpost.2017.01.010
          5346031
          28129590
          391394dc-9c38-4d8a-ad4b-c12d6f4e78ba
          Categories
          Article

          muscle co-contraction,gait,aging,dual task
          muscle co-contraction, gait, aging, dual task

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