Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

ISSN 2055-2386
Original Research

The relationship of weight-bearing and non-weight bearing ankle dorsiflexion to balance and gait performance in young and older adults

Elizabeth Norris*, Emily Hubbuch, April Ford and Whitney Allen

*Correspondence: Elizabeth Norris

Author Affiliations

†These authors contributed equally to this work.

Department of Physical Therapy, Western Kentucky University, USA.


Background: Limitations in ankle dorsiflexion have been associated with balance dysfunction and the development of altered gait patterns. Methods to assess ankle dorsiflexion include non-weight bearing and weight-bearing positions. While the non-weight bearing position is the traditional method for the assessment of ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, the mobility requirements for ankle DF during gait and balance are primarily weight-bearing related. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship of ankle dorsiflexion, measured in non-weight bearing and weight bearing positions, to balance and gait performance in healthy young and older adults.

Methods: Subjects were divided into a young age group (n=22; age range 20-40; mean age 27.5±4.4 years old) and an older age group (n=15; age range 60-80; mean age 70.3±5.3 years old). Ankle dorsiflexion was measured under 3 conditions: non-weight bearing active range of motion, non-weight bearing passive range of motion and weight bearing dorsiflexion. Balance was assessed using the limits of stability test on the Neurocom Smart Balance Master. End point excursion and maximal excursion were used to quantify balance performance in the forward direction of the LOS. Gait performance was assessed using spatiotemporal gait parameters using the GAITRite electronic walkway. Gait speed, cadence, step length, stance time, and single support time were used to quantify gait performance. Two-way ANOVA compared each method of ankle dorsiflexion for each age group. Independent t-tests examined differences between each age group for balance and gait parameters. Pearson correlation coefficients assessed associations between each method of ankle dorsiflexion to gait and balance measures.

Results: There was a significant difference between all measures of ankle dorsiflexion (non-weight bearing active

Conclusion: The correlations between method of ankle dorsiflexion measurement and balance and gait performance differed between the young and older age groups. Ankle dorsiflexion measured with nonweight bearing methods resulted significant correlations for balance and gait in the young age group, while ankle dorsiflexion measured with weight bearing methods resulted in a significant correlations for balance in the older age group.

Keywords: Weight bearing dorsiflexion, ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, older adults, limits of stability, spatiotemporal gait paramters

ISSN 2055-2386
Volume 3
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