Date: 26 Sep 2013

Interventions to Improve Walking in Older Adults

Abstract

Interventions to improve walking in older adults have historically been multifactorial (i.e., strengthening, endurance and flexibility programs) focusing on improving the underlying impairments. These impairment-based programs have resulted in only modest improvements in walking. In older adults, walking is slow, less stable, inefficient, and the timing and coordination of stepping with postures and phases of gait is poor. We argue the timing and coordination problems are evidence of the loss of motor skill in walking. Taking a lesson from the sports world and from neurorehabilitation, task-oriented motor learning exercise is an essential component of training to improve motor skill and may be a beneficial approach to improving walking in older adults. In this article we: (1) briefly review the current literature regarding impairment-based interventions for improving mobility, (2) discuss why the results have been only modest, and (3) suggest an alternative approach to intervention (i.e., task-oriented motor learning).