Date of Degree

6-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor

Alan Kluger

Committee Members

Humberto Lizardi

Kevin Sailor

Elizabeth Guerrero-Berroa

Barry Reisberg

Subject Categories

Psychology

Keywords

GaitRITE, temporal, spatial, balance

Abstract

The process of aging brings a set of changes that are widespread in nature. Two of the domains in which age-related effects can be prominently seen are cognition and motor/mobility. Until more recently, gait was viewed as more of a simple and automatic motor process, but increasing evidence suggests the involvement of higher cognitive functioning and attention. The association of age-related gait changes and cognitive decline has been reported in numerous studies, and there is much potential value in examining the cognitively normal aging population to facilitate the establishment of the normal parameters in these areas that are anticipated with advancing age. In particular, a closer examination of the specific gait parameters that are anticipated with normal aging can be helpful in distinguishing pathology from normal progression. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the specific changes in the gait patterns of the normal aging population without the inclusion of the mildly cognitively impaired or cognitively demented populations. All cognitively normal aging individuals performed a series of cognitive and gait tasks. Most of the key gait measurements were collected through a computerized mat that analyzed the specific gait parameters of the subject’s gait during the task. Specifically investigating the changes in these gait patterns over time, the subjects were grouped by their age into age decades during data analysis (subjects aged 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, and 80-89). As anticipated, the results demonstrated a general slowing in gait speed as the groups increased in age, which can largely be seen by the time one reaches their 70s and 80s in age. Additionally, specific parameters relating to spatial measurements and those contributing to balance were found to be worsened with increasing age. Balance instability may potentially be experienced by the 70s age decade, with shorter and more frequent steps taken by the 80s age decade. The general pattern of results indicate that there are indeed certain age effects on gait that can be observed and quantitatively measured at various periods of age decades during normal age progression. Once this normal pattern of gait changes in age advancement is established, it would allow for the early determination of pathology and such motor-based indicators of cognitive decline can contribute immensely toward alleviating the possible confounding effects that education and personal experience may have on traditional language-based measures.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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