INTRODUCTION: Ankle proprioception training has been found to improve balance-related gait disorders; yet, the relationship between ankle proprioception and specific gait patterns in older adults with and without impaired balance has not been systematically examined. METHODS: This study characterizes gait patterns of 230 older adults aged 60 – 95 evaluated in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) gait laboratory with (n=82) and without impaired balance (inability to successfully complete a narrow walk) and examines ankle proprioception performance. RESULTS: Participants with impaired balance had a higher angle threshold for perceiving ankle movement than those without impaired balance even after controlling for the substantial age difference between groups (p = 0.017). Gait speed, stride length, hip and ankle range of motion and mechanical work expenditure from the knee and ankle were associated with ankle proprioception performance (p <0.050 for all) in the full sample, but in stratified analysis these associations were evident only in participants with impaired balance. CONCLUSION: Ankle proprioception in older persons with balance impairment may play a role in balance related gait disorders and should be targeted for intervention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation