Safety on stairs
Biomechanical and sensory constraints of step and stair negotiation in old age
The majority of falls in the elderly occur during stair descent. Several functional parameters, including muscle strength, joint mobility and our sense of balance, may be involved, all of which deteriorate with age.
The aim of this programme was to understand the role played in stepping performance by musculoskeletal and sensory functions and their deterioration with ageing and to find ways of improving the ability of older people to descend stairs.
The first approach was to examine the design of stairs, specifically the combination of step-rise and step-going, since older people may lack the strength to cope with high steps or have difficulty landing safely on narrow steps. The results of this study could lead to alterations of the current building regulations relating to stair design.
The second approach was to see to what extent “tailor-made” exercise training, for both strength and skill deficits identified in older people, can minimise the age-related deterioration of stepping ability. It was anticipated that this investigation would result in guidelines concerning the efficacy and cost effectiveness of training interventions.
This project was linked to a Canadian Research Project funded by CIHR-IA.
Biomechanical and sensory constraints of step and stair negotiation in old age (PDF, 2.7MB)
View all project findings.
For more information, read the full project details.