Why do older adults stand-up differently to young adults?

Nieuws - 26 september 2022 - Webredactie 3mE

As we age, we start to change the way we move. But why do older adults move differently to young adults? How much change can we tolerate before assist is needed? And how does adaptation relate to falls? Eline van der Kruk, researcher at the department of BioMechanical Engineering, and a team of researchers of Imperial College in London explore these questions in a daily life activity. Their findings were published in the Nature Portfolio NPJ Aging.

As people get older, their movements change; older adults move differently to young adults. So what happens? Is this because they can’t move the same way as young adults? If so, which changes in their body are then most important? Or is it because they optimize for a different goal and therefore start to move differently? For example, because they are more afraid of falling. Eline van der Kruk and a team of researchers studied this in young and older adults in a common activity: standing up from a chair. They found that older adults that adapted their movements were not incapable of performing the same movements as the young adults. So their neuromuscular capacity did not limit them. It were  however the parameters related to stability and the perception thereof that made older adults change their movements. When they get older they therefore start to change the way they move long before there are actual physical limitations.

In Van der Kruk’s study they report on how these early adaptation strategies are of importance for early detection and prevention of falls and prolonging mobility.