The Effects of External Focus Gait Training on Gaze Behaviour and Walking Stability in Older Adults at Risk of Falling (78864)

Session Information:

Tuesday, 26 March 2024 15:30
Session: Poster Session 2
Room: Orion Hall (5F)
Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 9 (Asia/Tokyo)

Research has advocated the use of external focus instructions to promote better motor performance. The aim was to explore the effects of external focus training on gaze behaviour and walking stability in older adults at risk of falling. Sixty older adults (mean age:72.2±3.8) were recruited and randomly allocated into two training groups: external focus (EXT) and control (CON). All participants performed 20 consecutive training trials of walking at their natural pace along an 8-m straight, level-ground walkway. For EXT, the instruction was to focus on random digits that were presented on a monitor located at the end of the walkway during walking. For CON, there were no explicit instructions. We conducted five walking trials to assess gaze behaviour and walking stability at baseline (before training) and immediately after training. We observed that when compared to baseline, EXT (but not CON) spent significantly higher percentage of time fixating on the destination (and smaller percentage of time fixating on the proximal areas) after training (p<0.05). In addition, EXT exhibited significantly smaller body sway (shoulder and hip regions) and less variability of stride length after training (p0.05). Our findings suggest that at-risk older adults appear to walk with better walking stability when they spend more time gazing towards the destination after training with an external focus manipulation. Our evidence could promote the potential application of external focus instructions in gait rehabilitation settings, aiming to optimize gaze control and enhance walking stability for fall prevention.

Toby C.T. Mak, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
Thomson W.L. Wong, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
Shamay S.M. Ng, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

About the Presenter(s)
Dr Toby C.T. Mak is a University Postdoctoral Fellow or Instructor at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hong Kong

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00