Among older adults, injuries from falls are the most common cause of hospital admissions, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight and obese populations also are twice as likely to slip or fall that their normal weight counterparts. But what if those ‘at risk’ populations could be taught how not to fall.
The split belt treadmill is part of new research at the University of Houston that is examining the effect of body weight on walking and standing stability and on your ability to recover your balance after a trip.
“We are looking at the biomechanics of the response. We’re looking at two groups, normal weight and overweight/obese,” said assistant professor Jian Liu. “We can speed up one belt really fast and slow it down really fast and that creates a situation which is similar to what you would experience in a slip or trip.”
Participants are harnessed and wear accelerometers while high speed cameras capture their responses. Liu says there is very little research on this growing and costly accident for those with mobility issues. He’s hopeful that data from this pilot study will aid in the creation of new fall prevention therapies.
“Your muscular and skeletal system can be modified, can be trained, can be improved so it’s like we can design a specific training program just for the fall, just for your balance.”
Prof. Jien Liu is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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About biomechanics research/study at UH: http://www.coe.uh.edu/mycoe/hhp/chair/gradop.cfm.