Master of Science (MSc)
Faculty of Science
Dr. Stephen Perry
Falls among older adults (OA) is becoming increasingly more prevalent. One third of OA fall each year; of those fallers, 20-30 percent endure various injuries ─ fatal and nonfatal. Older women are especially at risk and are twice as likely than men to sustain a fatal injury following a fall, including severe hip fractures. This study aimed to explore and confirm balance-enhancing evidence for thin and hard midsoles/insoles through an experimental environment with a single data collection session. It was hypothesized that balance would improve while wearing hard insoles in combination with a hard midsole when compared to standard insole and barefoot conditions during inclined walking by providing increased somatosensory feedback on the sole of the foot and mechanical advantage. Nine (n=9; mean age=71.7, 65-81 years) female OA completed various walking tasks including gait termination (GT), normal walking (NW), and cognitive walking (CW) along a 2 m inclined walkway. Participants completed these walking trials while either wearing footwear with standard insoles, wearing the same footwear with hard insoles, or walking barefoot. The cognitive task that was required to be completed by the participants during walking trials included counting in reverse order by multiples of seven beginning from a 4-digit number. Multiple variables were examined to determine overall balance and stability including maximum and minimum medial/lateral (ML) center of mass (COM) - center of pressure (COP) differences (COM-COP), vertical force rates of loading (ROL), step widths, step lengths, and average gait velocity differences between steps. Analysis was performed on the first three steps that were completed on the beginning of the inclined walkway. Results indicated that ML COM-COP differences within GT and NW were significantly different between footwear conditions. No significant differences were found for ROL during the final single stance prior to GT. Various significant findings for step widths and step lengths were found across all three walking conditions. Change in average gait velocity between two steps at the beginning of the inclined walking during GT was significantly greater during the barefoot condition. Results indicated that midsole hardness influences balance and stability for older female adults during inclined walking. In conclusion, a hard midsole in combination with a hard insole may contribute to overall dynamic balance control.
McLeod, Elizabeth, "Investigating balance-enhancing effects of midsole hardness and thickness for older adult footwear" (2016). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 1893.