Motor readiness and joint torque production in lower limbs of older women fallers and non-fallers
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This study aimed to evaluate the motor response time and ability to develop joint torque at the knee and ankle in older women with and without a history of falls, in addition to investigating the effect of aging on these capacities. We assessed 18 young females, 21 older female fallers and 22 older female non-fallers. The peak torque, rate of torque development, rate of electromyography (EMG) rise, reaction time, premotor time and motor time were obtained through a dynamometric assessment and simultaneous electromyography. Surface EMGs of the rectus femoris (RF), vastus lateralis (VL), biceps femoris (BF), gastrocnemius lateralis (GL) and tibialis anterior (TA) muscles were recorded. Knee extension and flexion peak torques were lower in older fallers than in non-fallers. Knee extension and flexion and ankle plantarflexion and dorsiflexion peak torques were lower in both older groups than in the younger group. The rate of EMG rise of the BF and the motor time of the TA were lower and higher, respectively, in older fallers than in the younger adults. The time to reach peak torque in knee extension/flexion and ankle plantarflexion/dorsiflexion and the motor times of the RF, VL, BF and GL were higher in both older groups than in the younger groups. The motor time of the TA during ankle dorsiflexion and the knee extension peak torque were the major predictors of falls in older women, accounting for approximately 28% of the number of falls. Thus, these results further reveal the biomechanical parameters that affect the risk of falls and provide initial findings to support the prescription of exercises in fall prevention programs. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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