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The demands of stair descent relative to maximum capacities in elderly and young adults

Reeves, Neil D. and Spanjaard, Marcel and Mohagheghi, Amir A. and Baltzopoulos, Vasilios and Maganaris, Constantinos N. (2007) The demands of stair descent relative to maximum capacities in elderly and young adults. Journal of electromyography and kinesiology, 18 (2). pp. 218-227. ISSN 1050-6411

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Abstract

In this study, we aimed to establish the joint moment and joint range of motion requirements of stair descent and the demands relative to maximal capacities in elderly and young adults. Participants descended a custom-built standard dimension four-step staircase, at their self-selected speed in a step-over manner. Kinetic data were acquired from force platforms embedded into each of the steps and into the floor at the base of the stairs. A motion analysis system was used to acquire kinematic data and joint moments were calculated using the kinematic and kinetic data. Maximum capacities (joint moment and joint range of motion) were assessed using a dynamometer. During stair descent the elderly generated lower absolute ankle joint moments than the young, which enabled them to operate at a similar relative proportion of their maximal capacity compared to young adults (75%). The knee joint moments during stair descent were similar between groups, but the elderly operated at a higher proportion of their maximal capacity (elderly: 42%; young: 30%). Ankle plantarflexion-dorsiflexion angle changes were similar between groups, which meant that the elderly operated at a higher proportion of their maximal assisted dorsiflexion angle. These results indicate that the elderly redistribute the joint moments in order to maintain the task demands within 'safe' limits.

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