Ankle Dorsiflexion Delay Can Predict Falls in the Elderly

J Rehabil Med. 2002 Nov;34(6):278-83. doi: 10.1080/165019702760390374.


The aim of this study was to investigate the kinematic and kinetic characteristics of walking in healthy non-faller elderly in order to develop predictive parameters for falls. A 1-year prospective trial was completed on a walking circuit with two integrated force platforms and an optoelectronic system for three-dimensional movement analysis. Gait was investigated in 54 volunteers who were healthy people over 60 who had not fallen in the previous year. The subjects were contacted 2-monthly over a period of 1 year. The results showed that 16 of the 54 people tested had fallen. There was no significant age difference between the group of fallers and the group of non-fallers. Fallers walked more slowly and tended to use a double support for a longer period of time. Fallers were less powerful but mainly showed fewer power and moment variations. The range of motion at the ankle and the hip was reduced. We noticed a change in the walking pattern, showing a delay in the dorsiflexion of the ankle at the swing phase. In conclusion, subclinical gait parameters occur in older people. The advent of neuromotor pattern alterations when walking is related to the tendency to fall. Ankle dorsiflexion delays, in particular, appear to be predictive of falls.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Ankle Joint / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Walking / physiology*