N.X.TOU1, K.A. JABBAR1, B.W.J. PANG1, L.K. LAU1, W.T. SEAH1, K.K. CHEN1, T.P. NG2, S.L. WEE1
Geriatric Education and Research Institute1, National University of Singapore2
Walk ratio characterises an individual’s gait pattern and has been purported to be a measure of overall neuromotor gait control. However, it remains unclear how walk ratio changes with age and its ability to predict health and function. The aim of this study was to examine the association of walk ratio with age and physiological falls risk in community-dwelling adults.
A total of 441 community-dwelling adults aged between 21 and 90 years were recruited. All participants walked along a computerised walkway (GAITRite®) at their habitual walking speed, and their gait speed, step length and cadence were measured. Walk ratio was calculated as step length divided by cadence, adjusted for body height. Physiological falls risk was determined using the Physiological Profile Assessment.
Walk ratio was negatively associated with age (r = -.34, p < .01). Older adults were found to have significantly lower walk ratio as compared to younger adults (d = .42, p < .01). After adjusting for age, gender, medical history, physical activity levels, and gait speed, walk ratio was found to be significantly associated with physiological falls risk (ß = -0.149, p < .01). In addition, this association was significantly moderated by gait speed (ß = 0.208, p < .01).
Walk ratio at habitual walking speed decreases with age. Reduced walk ratio was associated with greater physiological falls risk, especially among individuals with slower walking speed. This suggests that interventions to maintain walk ratio may reduce fall risk