A systematic review of center of pressure measures to quantify gait changes in older adults


Measures of gait center of pressure (COP) can be recorded using simple available technologies in clinical settings and thus can be used to characterize gait quality in older adults and its relationship to falls. The aim of this systematic review was to investigate the association between measures of gait COP and aging and falls. A comprehensive search of electronic databases including MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, CINAHL (EBSCO), Ageline (EBSCO) and Scopus was performed. The initial search yielded 2809 papers. After removing duplicates and applying study inclusion/exclusion criteria, 34 papers were included in the review. Gait COP has been examined during three tasks: normal walking, gait initiation, and obstacle negotiation. The majority of studies examined mean COP position and velocity as outcome measures. Overall, gait in older adults was characterized by more medial COP trajectory in normal walking and lower average anterior-posterior and medio-lateral COP displacements and velocity in both gait initiation and obstacle crossing. Moreover, findings suggest that Tai chi training can enhance older adults' balance control during gait initiation as demonstrated by greater COP backward, medial and forward shift in all three phases of gait initiation. These findings should be interpreted cautiously due to inadequacy of evidence as well as methodological limitations of the studies such as small sample size, limited numbers of ‘fallers', lack of a control group, and lack of interpretation of COP outcomes with respect to fall risk. COP measures can be adopted to assess fall-related gait changes in older adults but more complex measures of COP that reveal the dynamic nature of COP behavior in step-to-step variations are needed to adequately characterize gait changes in older adults.

Experimental Gerontology