The Effect of Different Turn Speeds on Whole-Body Coordination in Younger and Older Healthy Adults

Khobkhun, Fuengfa, Hollands, Mark and Richards, James orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4004-3115 (2021) The Effect of Different Turn Speeds on Whole-Body Coordination in Younger and Older Healthy Adults. Sensors, 21 (8). e2827.

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Difficulty in turning is prevalent in older adults and results in postural instability and risk of falling. Despite this, the mechanisms of turning problems have yet to be fully determined, and it is unclear if different speeds directly result in altered posture and turning characteristics. The aim of this study was to identify the effects of turning speeds on whole-body coordination and to explore if these can be used to help inform fall prevention programs in older adults. Forty-two participants (21 healthy older adults and 21 younger adults) completed standing turns on level ground. Inertial Measurement Units (XSENS) were used to measure turning kinematics and stepping characteristics. Participants were randomly tasked to turn 180° at one of three speeds; fast, moderate, or slow to the left and right. Two factors mixed model analysis of variance (MM ANOVA) with post hoc pairwise comparisons were performed to assess the two groups and three turning speeds. Significant interaction effects (p 0.05) were seen in; reorientation onset latency of head, pelvis, and feet, peak segmental angular separation, and stepping characteristics (step frequency and step size), which all changed with increasing turn speed. Repeated measures ANOVA revealed the main effects of speeds within the older adults group on those variables as well as the younger adults group. Our results suggest that turning speeds result in altered whole-body coordination and stepping behavior in older adults, which use the same temporospatial sequence as younger adults. However, some characteristics differ significantly, e.g., onset latency of segments, peak head velocity, step frequency, and step size. Therefore, the assessment of turning speeds elucidates the exact temporospatial differences between older and younger healthy adults and may help to determine some of the issues that the older population face during turning, and ultimately the altered whole-body coordination, which lead to falls.

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