Objective To determine the effects of age and sex and their interaction effects on dynamic postural stability during stair descent.
Design Cross sectional.
Participants Healthy younger adults (N=28) and healthy older adults (N=21).
Interventions Not applicable.
Main Outcome Measures Spatiotemporal gait parameters, displacement of center of mass (COM), instantaneous velocity of the COM, divergence between vertical projection of the COM, and center of pressure (COP).
Results Interaction effects of age and sex were found in stride duration, COM displacement, and instantaneous velocity of the COM in the mediolateral direction. Older adults demonstrated longer stride duration with shorter double-limb stance and longer single-limb stance during stair descent. Women have significantly longer stride duration than men. The effects of sex and age were significant in the data normalized by height. Older adults and women demonstrated larger peak-to-peak COM displacement, peak instantaneous velocity of the COM, and COM-COP divergence than the younger individuals and men, respectively. Peak instantaneous velocity of the COM was significant different in most pairwise comparisons, but the COM-COP divergence was significantly different in several comparisons.
Conclusions This study examined the COM and COP parameters to quantify dynamic stability during stair descent across sex and age. Although older women descended stairs successfully, they demonstrated differences in control of instantaneous velocity of the COM compared with the other participants. Dynamic instability could be detected by examining the control of instantaneous velocity of the COM. In developing a better understanding of the balance control of stair descent in healthy older adults, aging patients with various pathologies can be better assessed, appropriately treated, and provided with proper assistive devices.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes