Effects of Advanced Age and Parkinson’s Disease on Joint-Level Kinetic Adaptations to Faster Walking Speeds

Academic Article


  • Redistribution of mechanical output from the ankle to the hip during walking occurs with advanced age. Changes to tissues spanning the ankle may limit the joint from performing mechanical functions necessary to walk at fast speeds and older adults may redistribute work proximally to compensate. Older adults with Parkinson’s disease (PD) do not exhibit the distal-to-proximal redistribution and may therefore be limited in reaching fast walking speeds. We tested whether advanced aging, regardless of the presence of PD, limits the ability to increase motor-like behavior of the ankle as walking speed increases. We also tested whether healthy older adults—but not PD patients—would compensate for reduced motor-like behavior at the ankle with disproportionately larger mechanical redistributions at faster speeds. The 16 young, 16 older, and 8 PD-diagnosed adults walked at 0.8, 1.2, and 1.6 ms−1 on a treadmill. We used joint functional indexing to quantify motor-like behavior of the ankle and a hip-to-ankle mechanical work ratio to quantify mechanical redistribution. We found a significant group x speed interaction (p < 0.05) for motor-like behavior of the ankle, with younger adults increasing motor index more than the older and PD groups as walking speed increased. Contrary to our second hypothesis, we found a significant main effect of speed (p < 0.001) on redistribution ratios, indicating that all three groups decreased redistribution ratios as walking speed increased, but not a significant interaction.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kuhman D; Kongsuk J; Reed WR; Rosenblatt NJ; Visscher K; Walker H; Hurt CP
  • Start Page

  • 76
  • End Page

  • 86
  • Volume

  • 2
  • Issue

  • 1