Analysis of gait kinematics to determine the effect of manipulating the appearance of stairs to improve safety: a linked series of laboratory-based, repeated measures studies

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Elliott, DB ; Foster, RJ ; Whitaker, D ; Scally, AJ ; Buckley, JG (2015)

Background: Falls on stairs are a common and dangerous problem for older people. This series of studies evaluated whether or not selected changes to the appearance of stairs could make them safer for older people to negotiate. Objectives: To determine the effect of (1) a step edge highlighter and its position and (2) an optimised horizontal–vertical (H–V) visual illusion placed on a step riser on gait safety during stair descent and ascent. Design: A series of studies using a repeated measures, laboratory-based design, investigating gait control and safety in independently mobile older people. Setting: The University of Bradford Vision and Mobility Laboratory. Participants: Fit and healthy older people aged 60 years of age or more, independently mobile, reasonably active and with normal healthy eyes and corrected vision. Interventions: A step edge highlighter in a variety of offsets from the stair edge and an optimised H–V visual illusion placed on the stair riser. The H–V illusion was provided on a staircase by horizontal step edge highlighters on the tread edges and vertical stripes on the step risers. Main outcome measures: Gait parameters that are important for safe stepping in ascent and descent, measured using three-dimensional lower limb segmental kinematic data.
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