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Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 782671, 7 pages
Research Article

Gait Parameter Adjustments for Walking on a Treadmill at Preferred, Slower, and Faster Speeds in Older Adults with Down Syndrome

1Balance Disorders Laboratory, Departments of Neurology and Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health and Science University, 505 NW 185th Avenue, Beaverton, OR 97006, USA
2Department of Physical Therapy, Niigata University of Health and Welfare, Niigata 950-3198, Japan
3Developmental Neuromotor Control Laboratory, School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

Received 11 July 2011; Revised 14 March 2012; Accepted 4 April 2012

Academic Editor: Ira Lott

Copyright © 2012 Beth A. Smith et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The combined effects of ligamentous laxity, hypotonia, and decrements associated with aging lead to stability-enhancing foot placement adaptations during routine overground walking at a younger age in adults with Down syndrome (DS) compared to their peers with typical development (TD). Our purpose here was to examine real-time adaptations in older adults with DS by testing their responses to walking on a treadmill at their preferred speed and at speeds slower and faster than preferred. We found that older adults with DS were able to adapt their gait to slower and faster than preferred treadmill speeds; however, they maintained their stability-enhancing foot placements at all speeds compared to their peers with TD. All adults adapted their gait patterns similarly in response to faster and slower than preferred treadmill-walking speeds. They increased stride frequency and stride length, maintained step width, and decreased percent stance as treadmill speed increased. Older adults with DS, however, adjusted their stride frequencies significantly less than their peers with TD. Our results show that older adults with DS have the capacity to adapt their gait parameters in response to different walking speeds while also supporting the need for intervention to increase gait stability.